Refugee wellbeing

In April 2022, following the beginning of hostilities in Ukraine, members of the World Wellbeing Panel were asked for their views on two statements relating to the welfare of refugees coming from war-torn countries. 

The two statements were as follows:

Statement 1: “Families forced to flee war zones who end up making a new life in other countries on average succeed in the sense that their long-run wellbeing is similar to other inhabitants of the countries in which they stay.”

Statement 2: “The wellbeing of refugees in long-term camps will not catch up with that of locals.”

Response options for each statement were: “completely agree”, “agree”, “neither agree nor disagree”, “disagree”, “completely disagree”.

A summary of several of the ideas arisen from the survey discussion is that, being in a refugee camp separated from the host society and unable to enjoy a normal life is a stressor that evidence suggests thwarts the healing, recovery and assimilation process of refugees. In turn, this stressor may hurt their chances for full development into the host society.


List of WWP respondents


  1. Brockmann, H., 2021. Why Are Newcomers so Happy? Subjective Well-Being of First-Generation Immigrants in Germany. Front. Hum. Dyn., 29 September 2021.
  2. Grimes A, Wesselbaum D. 2020. The Role of Subjective Wellbeing in Cross-Border Migration. In: Nijkamp P, Kourtit K, Newbold B, Partridge M (eds.) The Economic Geography of Cross-Border Migration. Springer: Berlin, Heidelberg, 217-243.
  3. Hendriks, M., Burger, M., Ray, J. and Esipova, N., 2018. Do international migrants increase their happiness and that of their families by migrating? Ch 3 (pp45-67) in Helliwell, J., Layard, R., and Sachs J. (eds.), 2018. World Happiness Report 2018.
  4. Stillman, S., Gibson, J., McKenzie, D., and Rohorua, H.. 2015. Miserable migrants? Natural experiment evidence on international migration and objective and subjective well-being. World Development, 65, 79-93.
  5. van de Wiel, W., C. Castillo-Laborde, F. UrzÃ, M. Fish & W.F. Scholte, 2021. Mental health consequences of long-term stays in refugee camps: preliminary evidence from Moria. BMC Public Health: 21: 1290.
  6. Walther, L., Fuchs, L. M., Schupp, J., & Von Scheve, C. (2020). Living conditions and the mental health and well-being of refugees: evidence from a large-scale German survey. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 22(5), 903-913.

About the World Wellbeing Panel