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Is the American Dream still alive?

The American Dream is the fundamental character or spirit of the United States.  It represents a set of ideals in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility which can be achieved through hard work, diligence and determination. In the definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.

The idea of the American Dream is rooted in the United States Declaration of Independence which proclaims that “all men are created equal” and that they are “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights” including “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

So one must question, in light of the current economic state of America; is this dream alive?

According to a report by the Center for a New American Dream from respondents surveyed as they asked the questions:

What does the “American Dream” mean today? How—and how successfully—are Americans achieving this dream? How has the concept of the “American Dream” shifted over the past 10 years?

These questions are at the heart of the Center for a New American Dream’s 2014 national survey, conducted in partnership with PolicyInteractive.

The survey, which polled 1,821 U.S. citizens ages 18 and over, illustrates the shift in public consciousness around the topic of the American Dream and sheds new light on the topics of advertising, the environment, consumption, and the sharing economy.

Major findings include:

1. The majority of Americans believe that it is more difficult to achieve the American Dream than it was a decade ago, due primarily to the high costs of education and healthcare.

2. Americans who have chosen to work fewer hours report an overall improvement in quality of life, indicating that this shift has positively affected their lives by allowing for more free time and reduced stress.

3. Americans are interested in increasing their sharing practices and learning more about the sharing economy. Over half of respondents believe that sharing lowers environmental impact, builds community, and helps save money.

4. Americans feel strongly that the way we live produces too much waste, and that our high consumption levels are largely responsible for global environmental problems. An overwhelming majority feel that we will need to make major changes in the way we live to counterbalance this phenomenon.

5. Americans believe that commercialism and advertising have gotten out of hand in the United States, and that the government should do more to combat it. Almost three-quarters of Americans believe there should be limits on advertising to children, including limits on advertising in public spaces and in schools.

6. Millennials make use of sharing economy services—such as bike sharing and peer-to-peer lodging—at a rate more than double their Baby Boomer and Gen X peers, and are interested in expanding their sharing practices. They are also more optimistic than Baby Boomers and Gen Xers that they will be able to achieve the American Dream.

7. Non-white Americans are more interested in sharing practices than white Americans.

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In an article written by Dana Blanton and from a poll published by Fox News on October 23, 2014, entitled “The American Dream is alive — for now” Blanton writes  “Most Americans believe they have achieved the American Dream — or will eventually. And that they’re better off than their parents. However, most say the next generation will be worse off, according to a Fox News poll released Thursday.

By a 59-35 percent margin, American voters believe they are better off than their parents.

Yet just 30 percent believe life for the next generation will be better than life today.


The poll was conducted for a special to air on Fox News Channel this Friday at 10PM ET, Saturday at 5PM ET and Sunday at 10PM ET. Hosted by Bret Baier, “Fox News Reporting: American Dream on the Ballot,” zeroes in on Colorado, where the race between Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall and Republican challenger Cory Gardner couldn’t be closer. The special looks at which candidate Coloradans from all walks of life — ranchers, hairdressers and even marijuana retailers — think will help them achieve their American Dream.

A core tenet of the American Dream is that kids can count on doing better than their parents.  Many Americans doubt that today: 61 percent say life will be worse for the next generation. That’s up significantly from 49 percent who felt that way two years ago — and matches a previous high recorded just before the 2010 midterm election.

“Americans tend to be very optimistic about the future,” says Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who conducts the Fox News poll with Democratic pollster Chris Anderson. “So these findings are not only unusual, but may also indicate a watershed shift in our expectations as a country.”

The shift is driven mainly by a near 20-point drop in optimism among Democrats: in 2012, 59 percent thought life for the next generation would be better. While that’s down to 40 percent today, Democrats are still much more likely than Republicans (23 percent) and independents (25 percent) to be optimistic about life for the next generation.

At the same time, by varying degrees, majorities of Republicans (70 percent), independents (64 percent) and Democrats (51 percent) say life will be worse for the next generation.

Younger voters are more optimistic than other age groups, yet over half of those under 35 are pessimistic: 52 percent say life for them will be worse. Forty percent think it will be better.

Overall, more than 7 voters in 10 feel they have achieved the American Dream (33 percent) or are on course to realizing it (39 percent). One in four say the dream is out of reach (25 percent).

What defines the American Dream? For 61 percent of voters, graduating from college is important to achieving it. Seventy-four percent consider having a successful career a big part of it. Raising a family is seen as important to the dream for 83 percent of voters.

So it’s not surprising that college graduates (42 percent) are much more likely than those without a degree (26 percent) to say they are living the dream.

Same thing on income: those in households earning $100,000 or more annually are almost twice as likely as those earning less than that to say they have achieved the dream (51 percent vs. 26 percent).

Yet parents (27 percent) are less likely than non-parents (35 percent) to feel they have made it.

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,049 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from September 28-30, 2014. The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.”

Tell us what you think by completing the poll below.

By your definition, do you feel that you've achieved or are achieving the American Dream?
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