Author Topic: Is the American Dream dead?  (Read 203 times)

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Offline EC

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Is the American Dream dead?
« on: June 06, 2014, 02:17:26 AM »
Note to mods: weren't sure if this should be in news or opinion. Please move as needed.

For the first time in a very long time, Americans aren't so sure their kids will have better lives than they do.

That's according to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll that shows just one in three people believe "most children in this country will grow up to be better off" than their parents. (A whopping 63 percent said their kids will be worse off.) Not only are those numbers stunning but they are also a stunning reversal from CNN data at the end of the last century (1999 to be exact) -- when two thirds of Americans predicted that children would grow up to have it better than their parents.

And the CNN/ORC data is far from the only evidence we have that the long-running belief that each generation will be better off than the last is fading. In 2013, the Post did a major survey alongside the Miller Center at the University of Virginia that sought to dig into the topic. Fifty four percent of those tested by WaPo in 2013 said that they were "better off" than their parents while just 39 percent said they thought their children would have a better quality of life than they have.

What gives? Why is there a declining belief that every successive generation will be better -- happier, more productive, more comfortable -- than the last?

A few thoughts.

1. This has been a uniquely difficult last decade (or so) for the American public. That same WaPo-Miller Center poll showed that on virtually every measure people said things had been getting harder rather than easier for them over the past few years. Seven percent said it had been getting easier to get ahead financially while 66 percent said it had been getting harder; 5 percent said it was getting easier to find good jobs while 74 percent said it was getting harder. You get the idea.  There may be something of a recency effect at work here; people have struggled amid a sputtering economy in recent years, which has made the idea of what the future might hold a far more tenuous proposition than it once was.

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