Dr David Bartram

Associate Professor of Sociology

School/Department: Media, Communication and Sociology, School of

Telephone: +44 (0)116 252 2724


Address: Astley Clarke 2.04


I am Director of Research for the School of Media, Communication and Sociology at Leicester. Externally I am co-editor of the Journal of Happiness Studies and President of RC31, the Research Committee on International Migration of the International Sociological Association. I have held a grant from the UK Economic and Social Research Council to investigate the ‘UK citizenship process’ as well as awards from the British Academy, Leverhulme, and the Nuffield Foundation. I have published two books: Key Concepts in Migration (SAGE, with Maritsa Poros and Pierre Monforte) and International Labor Migration: Foreign Workers and Public Policy (Palgrave). I gained a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a BA from Kenyon College.


My primary research focuses on happiness & life satisfaction. I have written extensively about migration and happiness. In general, gaining more money doesn’t make people happier, and so I’m led to wonder whether migration to a wealthier country increases happiness for migrants. I suspect it makes many of them less happy, insofar as people make great sacrifices to gain more income in the (possibly misguided) belief that the increase will make them happier.

My current research aims to improve the quantitative modelling used to explore causal relationships in this area. There is much confusion about how to select control variables for this purpose. I emphasise a distinction between “confounders” (variables that are antecedents not only of the outcome but of the focal variable whose impact we seek to identify) and “intervening variables” (i.e. they intervene in a path from the focal variable to the outcome). To estimate a causal impact we would control for confounders but exclude intervening variables. So, using this distinction we would not need any control variables to estimate the impact of age on happiness — because no individual-level variables are causally prior to age.


2022. “The ‘Gender Life-Satisfaction/Depression Paradox’ Is an Artefact of Inappropriate Control Variables", Social Indicators Research, 164:3, 1061-1072.

2022. “Is happiness u-shaped in age everywhere? A methodological reconsideration for Europe.” National Institute Economic Review

2022. “Sexual orientation and life satisfaction.” Journal of Sociology.

2022. “Does inequality exacerbate status anxiety among higher earners? A longitudinal evaluation“. International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 63:4, 184-200.

2022. “A longitudinal investigation of integration/multiculturalism policies and attitudes towards immigrants in European countries.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 48:1 (with Erika Jarochova)

2021.“Cross-sectional model building for research on subjective well-being: gaining clarity on control variables.” Social Indicators Research 155: 725-743.

2021. “Age and life satisfaction: Getting control variables under control.” Sociology 55:2 421-437.

2021. "Does the UK ‘citizenship process’ lead immigrants to reject British identity? A panel data analysis." Ethnicities 21:2, 375-394

2021. "Fare differently, feel differently: mental well-being of UK-born and foreign-born working men during the COVID-19 pandemic." European Societies 23 (sup1), S370-S383 (with Jing Shen)

2019.“The UK citizenship process: political integration or marginalization?” Sociology 53:4.

2019. "Sociability among European Migrants." Sociological Research Online 24:4, 557-574

2018. "Bringing Happiness Into the Study of Migration and Its Consequences: What, Why, and How?" Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies 17:3, 279-298 (Authors: Martijn Hendriks, David Bartram)

2018. "Life Satisfaction and the UK Citizenship Process: Do Tests and Ceremonies Enhance Immigrants’ Lives?" International Migration 56:6, 24-35

2016. “Macro-conditions and immigrants' happiness: Is moving to a wealthy country all that matters?” Social Science Research 56 90-107. (Authors: Martijn Hendriks, David Bartram)

2015. “Forced migration and ‘rejected alternatives’: a conceptual refinement.” Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies 13:4 439-56.

2014. Key Concepts in Migration. Sage Publications. Authors: David Bartram Maritsa V. Poros Pierre Monforte (Translations: Turkish (2017) Korean (2017) Chinese (2022))

2013. “Happiness and ‘economic migration’: A comparison of Eastern European migrants and stayers.” Migration Studies 1:2 156-75. Awarded the journal’s inaugural Prize for Best Article.

2011. “Economic Migration and Happiness: Comparing Immigrants’ and Natives’ Happiness Gains from Income.” Social Indicators Research 103:1 57-76. 2011. “Migration Ethno-nationalist Destinations and Social Divisions: Non-Jewish Immigrants in Israel.” Ethnopolitics 10:2 235-252.

2010. “International Migration Open Border Debates and Happiness.” International Studies Review 12:3 339-361.


I am happy to consider potential supervisions on topics related to subjective well-being (happiness, life satisfaction, etc.) and also on various aspects of international migration. My own work is quantitative, but I am also interested in supervising well-designed qualitative projects as well.


I teach a 1st-year module for BA Sociology on "Power, Privilege, and Diversity" and a third-year option on International Migration. I also contribute to masters teaching on the philosophy of social science, and occasionally I teach quantitative methods and analysis. Over the years I have taught a much wider range of topics including global development, the welfare state, research methods, and the sociology of religion.

Press and media

I'm happy to be contacted in connection with any inquiries relating to happiness/life-satisfaction and/or international migration.


I am co-editor of the Journal of Happiness Studies and President of RC31 the section on the Sociology of Migration of the International Sociological Association. I am a member of the Scientific Board for Research Network 35 of the European Sociological Association (RN35 is the section on International Migration). I was formerly on the Editorial Board of International Journal of Happiness and Development (2013 - 2015) and the Editorial Board of Work, Employment, and Society (2007 - 2009).


PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison (Sociology)

BA, Kenyon College (Sociology)

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