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Immigrants’ Life Satisfaction in Korea: Do Perceived Social Mobility and Sense of Belonging Matter?

Oh-Jung Kwonㅣ Hanyang University

Seok-Ho Kim ㅣSeoul National University


This paper examines the association between the subjective perceptions and life satisfaction among permanent immigrants in Korea. We used the nationally representative Survey of Naturalized Citizens and Permanent Residents in Korea (2013) to investigate the influences of perceived social mobility and sense of relative belonging to Korea on life satisfaction. Our analysis suggests that perceived upward social mobility is significantly associated with increasing life satisfaction in both men and women, even after controlling for potential confounding factors such as demographic and socio-economic characteristics and coping resources. On the other hand, the strength of association between sense of relative belonging to Korea and life satisfaction varies with gender: its effect is significant for women but vanishes for men. Women who came from developed countries tend to be more negatively affected by perceived downward mobility, while those from developing countries are more positively influenced by their sense of belonging to Korea.

Keywords: Life Satisfaction, Perceived Social Mobility, Sense of Belonging, National-ethnic Backgrounds


Health and Social Welfare Review 36(3), 2016, 449-484