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Culture Shock Mainly Affects Relocating Spouses

Experiencing culture shock definitely contributes to the unhappiness of global employees and their spouses. This is one of the findings of the Expat Insider 2018 Business Edition, which zooms in on foreign assignees, international hires, and relocating spouses. The report is based on the 2018 Expat Insider survey with 18,135 respondents.

Of the survey respondents that indicated unhappiness with life abroad, 18% of foreign assignees, 19% of international hires, and 26% of relocating spouses said culture shock had a negative impact on their happiness. Other reasons for unhappiness included a lack of personal support and not having enough socializing opportunities.

In the period between six months and two years, 25% of foreign assignees, 20% of international hires, and 31% of relocating spouses indicated unhappiness due to culture shock. In the period between two and five years, the percentages dropped slightly to 17% for foreign assignees, and 19% for international hires. For the relocating spouses in this timeframe the drop was significant — from 31% to 15%. This however increased again for those that have been abroad for longer than five years — 29% of relocating spouses now attributed their unhappiness to experiencing culture shock, compared to only 9% of foreign assignees and 11% of international hires.

As foreign assignees and international hires are more settled abroad, they seem to get used to the local culture and experiencing culture shock becomes consistently less prominent in influencing their happiness. For relocating spouses, however, the fluctuation in the percentages indicate that they seem to struggle more with this aspect of life abroad. This is in line with other findings in the Expat Insider 2018 Business Edition, indicating that relocating spouses are usually less satisfied with life abroad and desire more support to settle in.


Read the Expat Insider 2018 Business Edition: Expat Insider is one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive surveys on life abroad (18,135 expats from across the globe took part in the 2018 survey — 10% of respondents were foreign assignees, 19% were international hires, and 8% were relocating spouses).

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Expat Insider 2018 | Business Edition

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