Survey Says American Dream Isn't What You Think

Above is a summary of key findings. Credit: Center for a New American Dream

The Center for a New American Dream and PolicyInteractive recently release the results of a national survey about, that's right, the American Dream.  The upshot of the research is that quality of life is significantly more important to Americans than simply acquiring wealth.  Today, the American Dream is primarily about personal freedom, meeting basic needs, and achieving one's potential.

The survey of 1,800 U.S. citizens over the age of 18 asked the following questions:

  • What does the “American Dream” mean today?
  • How — and how successfully — are Americans achieving this dream?
  • And how willing are Americans to share?

Other key findings:

1. Nearly 80 percent of survey participants feel that high healthcare and education costs combined with low wages, among other drivers, have made the American Dream less attainable than it was 10 years ago. That's a notable increase over the 64 percent who felt that way in 2004 — before the recession.

2. One third of the respondents said they would like to share more things because it saves money, builds relationships, and decreases environmental impact. Digging a little deeper, non-white Americans showed more interest in sharing than did their white neighbors, and Millenials use sharing services more than twice as much as Baby Boomers and Gen Xers.

3. About 40 percent of respondents voluntarily chose to work fewer hours — and make less money — in the past five years, and most of them are happy about the decision due to the increase in quality of life they have experienced.

4. On environmental issues, about 70 percent of those surveyed cited waste and over-consumption as key problems (up from 64 percent in 2004), and some 85 percent believe we need to "make major changes" in order to protect the environment. 

5. A majority of participants favored reducing advertising, particularly ads aimed at children.

 

 

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