Effects of spatial mobility on subjective quality of life

Start of the project: 2023-Apr-01 - End of the project: 2026-Mar-31

In modern societies, individual life courses are characterised by a high degree of spatial mobility. From a societal perspective, spatial mobility is crucial for the functioning of the educational system and the labour market. From an individual perspective, spatial mobility is a strategy to improve, for instance, the work and living situation. Consequently, spatial mobility can significantly affect the individual life situation. Given the social and individual importance of spatial mobility, existing research has extensively analysed the consequences of spatial mobility for individual life courses and for the generation of societal inequalities. In doing so, it has mainly focused on work-related outcomes, such as wages and the occupational position. However, as human behaviour usually aims to improve one’s quality of life, this focus of previous research is too limited. Therefore, we consider it necessary to introduce a stronger focus on subjective quality of life into migration research. This focus allows us to give answers to the questions of how individuals cope with spatial mobility and how quality of life evolves in an increasingly mobile society.

Our project – funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) – aims to comprehensively examine the effects of societally highly relevant, yet so far hardly examined forms of spatial mobility (internal and international educational and labour market mobility) on subjective quality of life. We define subjective quality of life as a multidimensional construct, which comprises health-related quality of life (HRQOL, operationalised as subjective physical and mental health) and subjective well-being (SWB, operationalised as general life satisfaction). We aim to expand existing theoretical models and empirical knowledge by analysing societally relevant but understudied populations (apprentices, students, and different groups of internationally mobile employees). Additionally, we investigate the heterogeneity of the relationship between spatial mobility and subjective quality of life by considering partnership dynamics as well as the parental and individual levels of education. We ensure the robustness and generalisability of our results by using representative longitudinal data sets (SOEP, GERPS, NEPS, and NACAPS) and advanced methods of causal analysis.

The project is carried out in collaboration with the Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB).

Contact person

Nicolai Netz
Dr. Nicolai Netz +49 511 450670-171


Rafael Warkotsch

Funded by

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft