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Is the American Dream Still Achievable?
Striving for wealth, power, and recognition has been one of the top human priorities since time immemorial. Americans were raised to believe that hard work and effort secure their future of financially successful and socially established people. However, the entrenched belief in the American dream has been undermined in recent years, so it is logical that Americans begin to doubt the idea of a treasured meritocracy. Moreover, the notion of the American dream is no longer linked geographically to the USA as other countries like Canada and Denmark offer more favorable conditions to reach this goal. Therefore, having decided to achieve social and economic success, you should not only rely on your workmanship and exertion but also consider your childhood environment and background.
For a dream to exist there should be people believing it. Owing to the low spirits currently haunting our nation, the reality of the American dream becomes highly questionable. According to the survey conducted by Public Religion Research Institute, 7 percent of all Americans state that the American dream was never true, whereas impressive 48 percent say it once was true but does not exist anymore (PRRI 2014 American Values Survey, p.12). This poll shows that people realize it takes more than hard work to be successful in life.
To assess our chances of living the dream, we should contemplate the inborn conditions, such as childhood environment, family structure, and community. It has been common knowledge that many factors affect our ability to prosper, but a recent close study of social mobility proves that the American dream expects more from you than a mere effort. The research done by Raj Chetty, the Professor of Economics at Stanford, indicates that children’s income in adulthood depends greatly on the social and financial status of their parents, the neighborhood in which they grow up, and area segregation (Chetty, p.39-40). Thus, the American dream is no longer a matter of your personal craving for better life and assiduous work.
Given the current state of our economy, it cannot guarantee equal opportunities for all members of our society to become successful, as “the fundamental elements of the American dream are becoming increasingly unaffordable for the majority” (Eskow, 2014). The living standards grow slowly whereas income inequality increases, which “implicates policy decisions” (Bivens, Gould, Mishel, Shierholz, 2014). What used to be called “the American dream” is now perceived as national survival.
Since basic desiderata have never been at the top of the hierarchy of needs, the thought of comfortable and hassle-free existence seemed very attractive. However, the mythologized American dream appeared to be an ambitious, yet rather difficult and prearranged enterprise. Many people lost their faith in greater future due to the growing social and economic inequality and the related conditionality. So, is it possible to live the dream? Yes, but not for everybody. If you were not lucky enough to be born in a full and wealthy family living in a good neighborhood, it would be a tough challenge with no guarantees whatsoever.
Bivens, J., Gould, E., Mishel, L., & Shierholz, H. Raising America’s pay: Why it’s our central economic policy challenge. (2014, June 4). Economic Policy Institute. Retrieved from http://www.epi.org/publication/raising-americas-pay/
Chetty, R. (n.d.).Improving opportunities for economic mobility: New evidence and policy lessons. Retrieved from https://www.stlouisfed.org/~/media/Files/PDFs/Community%20Development/EconMobilityPapers/Section1/Econ
Eskow, R. (2014, October 22). 7 facts that show the American dream is dead: The key elements of the American dream are unreachable for all but the wealthiest. AlterNet. Retrieved from http://www.alternet.org/economy/7-facts-show-american-dream-dead
PRRI 2014 American values survey. (2014, September 23). Retrieved from http://www.prri.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/AVS-Pre-election-2014-Topline-Final.pdf