When launching his campaign to become the President of America, Donald Trump talked about how “the American dream is dead”. Mr. Trump may not epitomize the American dream because he was born to wealthy parents. The American Dream is all about the belief that hard work alone is the key to success and any one can make it to the top – in a highly inspiring rags-to-riches transition. The Brookings Institute found that Americans scored over all other nations in holding the highest belief in meritocracy—69% agreed with the statement “people are rewarded for intelligence and skill”—among 27 nations surveyed.
If true, do Americans enjoy social mobility irrespective of their antecedents? Someone could achieve mobility in absolute terms by increasing their income, in inflation-adjusted dollars, to an amount greater than that of their parents. Someone may also achieve relative mobility by increasing their “rank” on the income spectrum when compared to the “rank” of their parents.
Let us take a look at some studies which keep tabs on the way the American dream is working for many Americans who were born without a silver spoon.
According to insights collated from surveys by Brookings Institute, Research by the Pew Charitable Trusts as well as other reports:
The Pew Charitable Trusts explains that, while Americans are getting richer in absolute terms and are moving around a lot within the middle three quintiles, the richest and poorest quintiles are experiencing “stickiness at the ends.” In other words, in relative terms, the poor are staying poor and the rich are staying rich – despite all the social programs and incentives to equalize wealth over the past 51 years.
As per a recent survey by Wells Fargo and Gallup, U.S. investor confidence is at a seven-year high, and 84% of those surveyed were as confident today as they were a year ago that the American Dream remains achievable for them. So what does that say about the American Dream? Remember – America is the Land of Opportunity. We are promised that opportunity exists – not guaranteed of wealth and a comfortable lifestyle that surpasses that of our parents. As with most nations, there has always been a small population of extreme wealth, and a population of poor. America’s prosperity has always been tied to the middle class. We are a nation that is constantly transforming itself, but we have not yet found a way to eliminate poverty. Personal achievement is the cornerstone of personal advancement. While the studies cited above may sound discouraging, a further examination of those who have achieved the American Dream shows a pattern of family and community support, a solid educational background, and years of hard work.
So, if you want to achieve the American Dream, take a pledge on this Independence Day to keep the hopes of it alive in yourself (and in every immigrant who is attracted to America) and work hard to achieve it because it is your own responsibility to make it happen.
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