Aliya brings a high; wealth also helps, study shows

Immigrants from US, Canada, France and UK are 13.5% more likely to be happy than Sabras, study shows.

French Olim 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
French Olim 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Choosing to live in Israel may be a significant indicator of an average Israeli's happiness, according to a recent study published on Wednesday by the Jerusalem Institute of Market Studies (JIMS), conducted by the polling firm Dahaf. What buoys the spirits of the newcomer is "a matter of idealism. Those who choose to live in Israel have this 'aliya high,' and that's especially true if they come from Western countries," explained JIMS director Corrine Sauer explained. Immigrants from places like North America, France and Britain are on average 13.5% more likely to be happy than Sabras, while Russian immigrants are only 5.8% more likely to be happy than the Israeli-born. "It's probably because those from Western countries have a more voluntary motivation to live in Israel." Sauer explained, "The more voluntary the immigration, the happier the immigrant." These results are very unique to Israel. In most surveys regarding happiness in other countries, the results usually showed that the immigrant population was far less satisfied than the native one. This may be caused by immigrants having less of a social network and struggling with cultural differences. But the recent survey shows that immigrants to Israel move due to ideological and religious reasons rather than economic motivation, perhaps explaining this anomaly. The survey on happiness was only a part of a massive 250 question study called the Israel Panel Study of Opinion Dynamics, which was compiled from February to April in 2008. The goal of the study was to understand the average adult's public opinion on a range of social and economic policies, from thoughts on army service to trust in institutions. The section on the degree of Israelis' happiness is the only one to be released so far. Of the 1,006 Jewish Israelis who participated, 717 were married. Sauer said, "While in many European countries, satisfaction with their marriage was lower than their overall happiness, in Israel this was not the case." A total of 53% of Israelis polled felt very happy in their marriage, and 44% were happy, leaving only a small number who were unsatisfied. Additionally, individuals who received a pay increase of at least NIS 1,320 per month at work were 2% less happy than single people receiving the same amount, Sauer explained, "Because people have to share their income when they are married, the increase is less significant to them." The survey's results also showed that males are more likely to be happy than females and religious Israelis more likely to be happy than the secular population, but only by a small number. Of those questioned in the survey, 86% considered themselves very happy, and Sauer plans to see if that number will change two years from now. "We're going to call the same people and ask the same questions and see how the average Israeli's happiness has changed over time," she said.