The American Dream is in trouble, according to the inaugural State of the American Dream Survey, a first-of-its-kind poll from Xavier's Institute for Politics and the American Dream.
The survey reveals that people are losing faith in the American Dream, with a majority believing that it is increasingly out of reach and that America is in decline. Those defining the American Dream in terms of financial security are especially negative, particularly middle-age women living in the Midwest. By contrast, African-Americans, Latinos and new immigrants have a more positive view of the American Dream.
“The American dream is in trouble, but it is being kept alive by new immigrants, Latinos and African-Americans,” said Mike Ford, a longterm national political advisor and founder of Xavier’s Institute for Politics and the American Dream. “The hope for the most rests with those with the least. Even in bad times, people have not lost confidence in themselves, but they have lost confidence in our national institutions. No institution, political or otherwise, benefits from these new realities."
The American Dream survey was conducted by the public opinion research firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates and will be done on an annual basis. Its goal is to define what the American Dream is and what it means to whom, to measure America's confidence in itself and the future, and to understand the aspirations and values likely to direct current and future economic, political and cultural decisions.
Among the key findings are that 60 percent of respondents believe that attaining the dream is harder for this generation than previous ones. An even larger majority, 68 percent, say it will be more difficult for their children to reach the dream, and 45 percent say it will be much harder. The survey can be accessed at www.xavier.edu/politics.
The poll is the first project of Xavier's Institute for Politics and the American Dream, which was created to nurture the political imagination of students as it provides leadership in national discussions of politics and public policy in an academic setting. The Institute also serves as a non-partisan center for researching crucial matters of public policy and governance and disseminating its findings to the public. Its founder and director, Mike Ford, is a 1970 alumnus. To learn more about the institute, visit www.xavier.edu/politics.