David Bartram

db158.jpgAssociate Professor

BA Kenyon; MSc, PhD Wisconsin (Madison)

Office: 2.04 Astley Clarke Building
Tel: +44 (0)116 252-2724
Email: d.bartram@le.ac.uk


Personal details

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 am also a member of the Scientific Board of RN35, the European Sociological Association's section on International Migration.


Personal website
Google Scholar

Orcid: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7278-2270


My undergraduate teaching usually includes a third-year option on International Migration, and a first-year core module on Power, Privilege & Diversity. I've also taught modules on the topic of Global Poverty and Development, as well as research methods and quantitative analysis.



  • David Bartram, Maritsa Poros, and Pierre Monforte, 2014. Key Concepts in Migration (London: Sage Publications).
  • 2005. International Labor Migration: Foreign Workers and Public Policy (New York: Palgrave Macmillan).

Journal articles

  • 2019. “Bringing happiness into the study of migration and its consequences: What, why, and how?” Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies, 17(3). (with Martijn Hendriks)
  • 2018. "Life Satisfaction and the UK Citizenship Process: Do Tests and Ceremonies Enhance Immigrants’ Lives?" International Migration.
  • 2016. “Macro-conditions and immigrants' happiness: Is moving to a wealthy country all that matters?”  Social Science Research, 56, pp. 90-107.  Authors: Martijn Hendriks, David Bartram. [link]
  • 2015. 'Forced migration and "rejected alternatives": a conceptual refinement', Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies13(4), pp. 439-56 [link]
  • 2015. 'Inverting the logic of economic migration: Happiness among migrants moving from wealthier to poorer countries in Europe', Journal of Happiness Studies16(5), pp. 1211-30 [link]
  • 2013. 'Migration, Return and Happiness in Romania', European Societies15(3), pp. 408-422. [link]
  • 2013. 'Happiness and ‘Economic Migration’: A Comparison of Eastern European Migrants and Stayers', Migration Studies1(2), pp. 156-175. [link]
  • 2012. 'Elements of a Sociological Contribution to Happiness Studies', Sociology Compass6(8), August, pp. 644-656. [link]
  • 2011. 'Economic Migration and Happiness: Comparing Immigrants' and Natives' Happiness Gains from Income', Social Indicators Research103(1), pp. 57-76. [link]
  • 2011. 'Migration, Ethno-nationalist Destinations, and Social Divisions: Non-Jewish Immigrants in Israel', Ethnopolitics10(2), pp. 235-252. [link]
  • 2010. 'International Migration, Open Borders Debates, and Happiness', International Studies Review23(2), pp. 339-361. [link]
  • 2010. 'The Normative Basis of 'Policy Implications': Reflections on International Labour Migration', Work, Employment and Society24(2), pp. 355-365. [link]
  • 2007. 'Conspicuous By Their Absence: Why Are There So Few Foreign Workers in Finland?', Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies33(5), July, pp. 767-782. [link]
  • 2005. 'Cultural Dimensions of Workfare and Welfare', Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis7(3), September, pp. 233-247. [link]
  • 2005. 'Une Absence Remarquée: Pourquoi si peu de travailleurs étrangers en Finlande?' Migrations Société17(102), pp. 125-145.
  • 2004. 'Labor Migration Policy and the Governance of the Construction Industry in Israel and Japan', Politics and Society32(2), pp. 131-170. [link]
  • 2000. 'Japan and Labor Migration: Theoretical and Methodological Implications of Negative Cases', International Migration Review34(1), Spring, pp. 5-32. [link]
  • 2000. 'Foreign Workers, Refugees, and Prospects for an Israeli-Palestinian Agreement', Development43(3), pp. 72-78.
  • 1998. 'Foreign Workers in Israel: History and Theory', International Migration Review32(2), Summer, pp. 303-325. [link]

Book chapters

  • 2017. “International Migration Decisions and Happiness: The Migration Happiness Atlas as a Community Development Initiative.” The Routledge Handbook of Community Development, Sue Kenny, Brian McGrath, and Rhonda Phillips (eds). London: Routledge. Authors: Martijn Hendriks, Kai Ludwigs, David Bartram.
  • 2016. “Happiness.”  Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, George Ritzer (ed).  Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • 2015. “Migration and Quality of Life in the Global Context.” In W. Glatzer (Ed.), Global Handbook of Wellbeing and Quality of Life. Dordrecht: Springer.
  • 2013. “Understanding Migration, Happiness and Well-being.”  World Migration Report 2013.  Geneva: International Organization for Migration.
  • 2012. 'Migration, Methods and Innovation', in Vargas-Silva, Carlos (ed.) Handbook of Research Methods in Migration (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar), pp. 50-68.
  • 2008. 'Immigrants and Natives in Tel Aviv: What's the Difference?' in Price, Marie and Benton-Short, Lisa (eds.) Migrants to the Metropolis: The Rise of Immigrant Gateway Cities (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press), chapter 13, pp. 301-321.
  • 2007. 'Igloos in Borneo: Variation and Conceptualization in Research on Foreign Workers', in DeSipio, Louis, Garcia y Griego, Manuel and Kossoudji, Sherrie (eds.) Researching Migration: Stories from the Field (New York, NY: Social Science Research Council). [link]


My research focuses on subjective well-being and international migration. I am author of Key Concepts in Migration, published by Sage in 2014. My first book, International Labor Migration: Foreign Workers and Public Policy (Palgrave Macmillan 2005), investigates government policy regarding workers in Israel and Japan. I have explored the relationship between immigration and happiness, investigating whether (as many would assume) migration to a wealthy country is advantageous to the immigrants themselves in the sense that it brings them greater happiness.

I recently held a grant from the ESRC to study the UK "citizenship process". I also held a grant from the Leverhulme Trust to sponsor an artist-in-residence in the department: local artist Kajal Nisha Patel was hosted by the University to work on a project titled "Asian Women: Work and Struggle".

My current research has more of a methodological focus and aims to improve the quantitative modelling used to explore causal effects in various contexts.  There is a great deal of confusion about how to select control variables for this purpose.  I emphasise the need to distinguish between “confounders” (variables that are causally prior not only to the outcome but to the main variable whose impact one seeks to identify) and “intervening variables” (i.e., they intervene in a path from the causal variable to the outcome).   To estimate a causal impact, we would control for confounders but exclude intervening variables.  For example, using this distinction, we would not need any control variables to estimate the impact of age on life-satisfaction — because no individual-level variables are causally prior to age.

Current/recent research projects

British Academy Talent Development Award (TDA21/210051), "From cross-sectional multi-level modelling to longitudinal analysis of country-level variables", with Patrick White (CoI), 2022

To investigate the impact of a country-level variable on an individual-level variable, many researchers would use cross-sectional multi-level modelling. We advocate a longitudinal analysis of time-varying country-level variables as a useful alternative in many situations. The dependent variable can be constructed via aggregation (e.g. averaging) of repeated cross-sectional survey data containing individual responses. There is no need for individual-level controls, because these are very unlikely to be antecedents of the (country-level) independent variable. We can then implement a longitudinal (‘within’/‘fixed-effects’) analysis of country-level variables (including country-level controls), which is more effective in minimising bias from omitted confounders.

The project will employ a research assistant to conduct ‘scoping research’ on the practices of UK-based quantitative researchers and teachers in the social sciences. We will then hold two engagement events (one focused on research, the other on teaching), where participants will be invited to explore the relative merits of the alternative approaches.


The UK citizenship process: Understanding immigrants' experiences

Research teamLeah Bassel (PI), David Bartram (CoI), Barbara Misztal (CoI), Pierre Monforte (CoI), and Kamran Khan (research assistant).

Duration: September 2013-August 2017.

Funder: Economic and Social Research Council (ES/K010174/1), £439K.

This project analyses  the ‘assimilationist turn’ in British immigration and integration policies, through a focus on immigrants’ lived experience of one of its principal instruments, the ‘citizenship process’. Studies to date have examined only one or two parts of the ‘citizenship process’, meaning the tests themselves, the citizenship ceremonies, the preparation courses many immigrants take beforehand, as well as the consequences of the tests for those to whom it is addressed. This project will adopt a more comprehensive approach to these issues, examining the lived experiences of the citizenship process as a whole via interviews with people about their experiences with preparation courses and their participation in the citizenship tests and ceremonies in Leicester and London. To analyse the effects of the process on the longer term, statistical analysis of survey data will also be undertaken. The overall goal is to learn about immigrants' perceptions and experiences of this process, to understand how it affects their sense of belonging, political participation and subjective well-being (happiness).


I am interested in hearing from potential PhD students with interests in any topic related to international migration. I also situate my research partly in the field of happiness studies and would be pleased to hear from potential PhD students with interests in exploring sociological topics using a happiness 'angle'.

Find out more about applying for a PhD

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School of Media, Communication and Sociology

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Research degrees (campus-based and distance learning courses)
T: +44(0)116 252 2785
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