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Study in Europe eclipses notion home in the sun equals happiness

LONDON (Reuters) - Sun seekers who leave northern Europe for warmer climes are marginally less happy than those left behind, a study found.

A sample of more than 300 migrants from Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, France and Britain who resettled in Mediterranean countries found that they were slightly less satisfied with life than a much larger sample of 56,000 people living in northern countries.

The sun lovers scored 7.3 out of a possible 10 on average on a "happiness" scale while the stay-at-homes came in at an average of 7.5 percent, according to the study released on Wednesday by Dr David Bartram, a senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology at England's University of Leicester.

"The key finding from the analysis is that people from northern Europe who migrated to southern Europe are less happy than the stayers in northern Europe," Bartram said.

He said the migrants had higher incomes than the average in their new country and some theories had predicted that this would make them happier.

The reverse proved to be the case, he said, perhaps because "migration itself can be disruptive to other dimensions of people's lives – social ties, sense of belonging - possibly with consequences for their happiness.

"Perhaps any positive subjective consequences were outweighed by negative consequences arising from the more general disruptive effects of international migration on one's life," he said in a statement.

Bartram's findings were based on a study of data collected between 2002 and 2010 by the European Social Survey, a cross-national survey conducted every two years.

(Writing by Michael Roddy; Editing by Rosalind Russell)

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