The

The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

The American Dream
The Atlantic/Aspen Institute

June 2015

The American Dream
June 2015

The American Dream
Summary Report

1

Methodology

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

PSB conducted an quantitative online survey in the US among 1,988 Gen Pop and 513 Broad Elites.
Research Objectives:

Defining the Dream—associations and obtainability of the American Dream

Identifying barriers to the Dream—greatest obstacles to achieving the dream

Reducing Barriers—Identifying whether there is a need or not, who is responsible, and best methods to reduce barriers

Understanding American perceptions surrounding the American Dream today— core concepts of the dream, prevalence, and
views on the nation as a whole

Methodology

Audiences Polled

TIMING: June 8 - June 19, 2015
SAMPLING
Sample Size
Margin of Error**

Gen Pop

US
Gen Pop

Broad Elites

1988

513

±1.75%

±3.58%

Broad Elites
• College graduate or higher
• Income of $75,000 or more a year
• Engaged with politics/technology

2
2

The key takeaways

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

The American Dream is perceived to be “suffering”



While majorities within almost all key demographic groups believe the American Dream is “suffering”, white Americans are more pessimistic than
other ethnic groups.
Those over 65 years old are most likely to believe they are living the dream - 66% vs only 41% of Millennials (under 30 years old).
While most age and ethnic groups are split as to whether the dream is attainable for most or only a few Americans, strong majorities (over 60%)
believe it remains achievable if you work hard.
White Americans are very pessimistic about their children’s/the next generation’s ability to achieve the dream, most other ethnic groups are much
more optimistic.

Americans upbeat about personal situation



Very few differences across age or ethnic groups in terms of satisfaction with life and optimism toward the future.
 Non-white ethnic groups are somewhat more positive than white Americans.
While younger age groups are more attuned to technology (e.g. more likely to want the latest smartphone than latest model car), there are few real
differences what they own or want.
While most millennials are somewhat more likely to want to live in urban areas than older age cohorts to live in urban areas, most (52%) still prefer
a house in the suburbs.
The biggest difference in where people prefer to live is between white Americans and other ethnic groups. White Americans are much more likely
to prefer a rural environment than other groups (31%, with the next highest preferring rural at 16%).

Strong concerns that America is on the wrong track, and uncertainty about its future

3

While most believe America is on the wrong track, younger age groups are more optimistic than other age groups.
 Similarly, non-white ethnic groups are more positive than white Americans.
White Americans are split as to whether America’s best days are ahead or behind, but African Americans (80%), Hispanic (63%) and Asian
Americans (73%) are much more optimistic that America’s best days are ahead of it.

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

AMERICANS’ PERSONAL
SITUATION
4

Americans are satisfied with their lives and optimistic about the future

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Satisfaction with Life

Optimism about Future

Very Satisfied

Somewhat Satisfied

Very Optimistic

Somewhat Optimistic

Somewhat Dissatisfied

Very Dissatisfied

Somewhat Pessimistic

Very Pessimistic

36

36

52

56
85

95
50

49

41

39

3

5

11
4

Gen Pop

Broad Elites

Gen Pop

11

5

Q12. How satisfied are you with your life?
Q13. How optimistic are you about your future?

93

86

5

1
Broad Elites

Most believe they have had or will have the opportunity to achieve both
personal and professional goals

The American Dream

June 2015

Broad Elites are more positive in this belief than Gen Pop

Do you believe you’ve had, or will have, the opportunity to achieve your personal goals?

Do you believe you’ve had, or will have, the opportunity to achieve your professional goals?

No Yes

Gen Pop

Broad Elites

6

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

81

No Yes

19

94

Gen Pop

6

Q14. Have you had, or do you believe you will have, the opportunities you need to achieve your personal goals?
Q15. Have you had, or do you believe you will have, the opportunities you need to achieve your professional goals?

Broad Elites

73

27

88

12

51-64 year-olds are the least optimistic about their ability to achieve their goals

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Do you believe you’ve had, or will have, the opportunity to achieve your personal goals?

Do you believe you’ve had, or will have, the opportunity to achieve your professional goals?

Yes No

30 or younger

85

15

30 or younger

77

23

31-50

82

18

31-50

75

25

51-64

65+

7

Yes No

75

82

25

18

Q14. Have you had, or do you believe you will have, the opportunities you need to achieve your personal goals?
Q15. Have you had, or do you believe you will have, the opportunities you need to achieve your professional goals?

51-64

65+

66

73

34

27

African-Americans and Hispanics are the most optimistic about their ability to achieve their goals

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Do you believe you’ve had, or will have, the opportunity to achieve your personal goals?

Do you believe you’ve had, or will have, the opportunity to achieve your professional goals?

Yes No

White

21

White

70

30

African-American

89

11

African-American

82

18

Latino/Hispanic

86

14

Latino/Hispanic

83

17

Asian

8

79

Yes No

79

21

Q14. Have you had, or do you believe you will have, the opportunities you need to achieve your personal goals?
Q15. Have you had, or do you believe you will have, the opportunities you need to achieve your professional goals?

Asian

73

27

Most Americans feel secure about their personal financial situation

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Personal Financial Security
Very Secure

Somewhat Secure

Somewhat Insecure

Very Insecure

18
37
67
49

88
51

22
11
Gen Pop

9

Q16. How secure do you feel about your personal financial situation?

10
1
Broad Elites

Older Americans feel more financially secure than younger Americans

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Personal Financial Security

16

45

Somewhat Secure

Somewhat Insecure

Very Insecure

16

19

61

69

24

66

74

50

50

20

22

10

11

12

7

30 or younger

31-50

51-64

65+

28

10

Very Secure

Q16. How secure do you feel about your personal financial situation?

50

19

Asian and Hispanic Americans feel more financially secure than white or
African-Americans

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Personal Financial Security

17

50

Somewhat Secure

Somewhat Insecure

Very Insecure

20

67

23

11

Very Secure

67
47

23

17

26

73
47

73
56

21

20

11

9

5

7

White

African-American

Latino/Hispanic

Asian

Q16. How secure do you feel about your personal financial situation?

Most Americans are happy with their current employment

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Happiness with Working
Completely Happy

Somewhat Happy

Somewhat
Unhappy
Neither Happy
nor
Unhappy

Completely Unhappy

27

31
72

80

45
49
18
8
3
Gen Pop
N=1028

12

Q27. Are you happy or unhappy in your job?

9
8
1
Broad Elites
N=437

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

DEFINING THE
AMERICAN DREAM
13

Americans view ability to provide a secure, comfortable life for themselves and
their family as central to their own, personal American Dream
Most Important Characteristics of the American Dream

14

Most Important Characteristics of the American Dream
(cont.)

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Gen Pop

Broad
Elites

Retiring when you want

16

18

41

Having access to a good education

14

17

36

26

Having kids

14

14

Providing a comfortable quality of life for your family

35

36

My children attending college

13

18

A healthy marriage

28

27

Lifelong friends

13

8

Owning a nice home

26

25

Having a job that has a meaningful impact on my
community/society

9

12

Having affordable healthcare

24

20

Being/becoming wealthy

8

8

Pursuing happiness

23

22

Living in a family-oriented suburban community

7

11

Being free to pursue your personal or professional passions

18

20

Getting ahead through hard work

18

22

A healthy balance between my professional and personal
lives

17

23

Helping others

16

15

Ranked by Gen Pop

Gen Pop

Broad
Elites

Living comfortably

41

38

Achieving financial security

37

Being debt-free

Q139. Which of the following are most important to your, personal, American Dream? Please select top 5 that apply.

Top Answers

Americans view Financial Security as central to their own, personal American
Dream
Most Important Themes of the American Dream

15

Most Important Themes of the American Dream
(cont.)

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015
Gen Pop

Broad
Elites

Lifelong friends

13

8

41

Living near your peers

1

2

36

26

Helping others

24

24

Getting ahead through hard work

18

22

Helping others

16

15

Retiring when you want

16

18

Having a job that has a meaningful impact on my community/society

9

12

Being/becoming wealthy

8

8

Having affordable healthcare

24

20

Owning your own business

7

6

Luxury

23

23

Traditional family values

67

71

Owning a nice car

7

5

A healthy marriage

28

27

Taking yearly vacations

6

7

Owning a nice home

26

25

Traveling to other countries

5

6

Having access to a good education

14

17

Having the latest technology

4

4

Having kids

14

14

Having a vacation or second home

2

3

My children attending college

13

18

Membership in exclusive social club or organization

1

1

Living in a family-oriented suburban community

7

11

Access to great technology and entertainment online

2

1

Comfort, quality of life

63

62

Living in a vibrant urban neighborhood

4

5

Living comfortably

41

38

Other

1

0

Providing a comfortable quality of life for your family

35

36

Personal happiness

54

57

Pursuing happiness

23

22

Being free to pursue your personal or professional passions

18

20

A healthy balance between my professional and personal lives

17

23

Ranked by Gen Pop

Gen Pop

Broad
Elites

Financial security

79

77

Achieving financial security

37

Being debt-free

Q139. Which of the following are most important to your, personal, American Dream? Please select top 5 that apply.

All ages view Financial Security as central to their own, personal American
Dream
Most Important Themes of the American
Dream

30 or
younger

31-50

51-64

65+

Most Important Themes of the American
Dream
(cont.)

Financial security

80

75

80

83

Being debt-free

37

31

40

Achieving financial security

31

35

Getting ahead through hard work

17

Retiring when you want

The American Dream

June 2015
30 or
younger

31-50

51-64

65+

Comfort, quality of life

48

62

71

73

42

Living comfortably

31

39

47

49

41

46

Providing a comfortable quality of life for your family

21

38

38

42

17

19

22

Luxury

32

23

20

15

13

13

20

20

Traveling to other countries

9

5

3

5

Owning your own business

11

7

6

3

Owning a nice car

6

7

7

5

Being/becoming wealthy

10

11

4

2

Taking yearly vacations

7

6

7

5

Traditional family values

67

68

66

68

Having the latest technology

6

5

2

1

A healthy marriage

29

26

27

30

Membership in exclusive social club or organization

5

1

0

0

Owning a nice home

25

26

27

26

Access to great technology and entertainment online

3

1

2

0

Having kids

20

15

10

11

Having a vacation or second home

2

2

2

1

Having access to a good education

14

14

14

18

Helping others

22

23

24

29

My children attending college

13

17

12

8

Helping others

14

14

19

22

Living in a family-oriented suburban community

8

9

4

4

Personal happiness

61

52

56

49

Having a job that has a meaningful impact on my
community/society

9

10

7

11

Pursuing happiness

32

23

18

15

Having affordable healthcare

11

20

33

38

Being free to pursue your personal or professional passions

18

18

19

19

Living in a vibrant urban neighborhood

7

4

3

2

A healthy balance between my professional and personal
lives

18

18

20

11

Other

0

1

1

3

Lifelong friends

17

9

15

15

Living near your peers

2

1

1

0

Ranked by 30 or Younger

16

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

Q139. Which of the following are most important to your, personal, American Dream? Please select top 5 that apply.

All ethnicities view Financial Security as central to their own, personal
American Dream
Most Important Themes of the American
Dream

White

AfricanAmerican

Latino/
Hispanic

Asian

Financial security

79

80

79

71

Achieving financial security

39

31

33

38

Being debt-free

36

40

35

33

Getting ahead through hard work

19

12

22

12

Retiring when you want

17

16

10

12

Being/becoming wealthy

6

13

10

Owning your own business

5

13

Traditional family values

68

A healthy marriage

The American Dream

June 2015

White

AfricanAmerican

Latino/
Hispanic

Asian

A healthy balance between my professional and personal
lives

18

13

18

25

Lifelong friends

14

11

11

14

Living near your peers

0

2

4

1

Having affordable healthcare

26

17

23

16

16

Helping others

23

32

21

23

7

8

Helping others

16

25

12

7

66

64

63

Having a job that has a meaningful impact on my
community/society

9

8

11

16

29

27

25

19

Owning a nice home

27

28

19

25

20

30

28

37

Having kids

Taking yearly vacations

15

13

15

8

6

5

7

9

Having access to a good education

Owning a nice car

14

11

16

14

5

12

9

12

My children attending college

12

15

15

10

Traveling to other countries

4

9

8

9

Living in a family-oriented suburban community

Having the latest technology

5

11

9

13

3

1

7

12

Comfort, quality of life

Having a vacation or second home

67

54

51

51

2

3

2

5

Membership in exclusive social club or organization

1

3

4

0

Living comfortably

43

39

33

34

Access to great technology and entertainment online

1

3

1

1

Providing a comfortable quality of life for your family

40

23

25

27

Personal happiness

Living in a vibrant urban neighborhood

57

51

46

66

3

6

6

3

Pursuing happiness

Other

23

27

18

23

1

1

0

0

Being free to pursue your personal or professional
passions

20

11

13

23

Ranked by White

17

Most Important Themes of the American
Dream
(cont.)

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

Q139. Which of the following are most important to your, personal, American Dream? Please select top 5 that apply.

Luxury

Compared to Non-Parents, Parents view Traditional family values as central to
their own, personal American Dream
Most Important Themes of the American Dream

18

Most Important Themes of the American Dream
(cont.)

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015
Parents

NonParent

Lifelong friends

11

16

39

Living near your peers

1

1

35

39

Having affordable healthcare

25

23

Getting ahead through hard work

19

18

Helping Others

23

25

Retiring when you want

15

17

Helping others

16

17

Being/becoming wealthy

7

9

Having a job that has a meaningful impact on my community/society

8

11

Owning your own business

6

8

Luxury

20

27

Traditional family values

74

58

Owning a nice car

5

8

A healthy marriage

30

24

Taking yearly vacations

7

6

Owning a nice home

28

23

Traveling to other countries

4

8

Having access to a good education

15

14

Having the latest technology

3

5

Having kids

18

9

Having a vacation or second home

2

2

My children attending college

20

5

Membership in exclusive social club or organization

1

2

Living in a family-oriented suburban community

8

5

Access to great technology and entertainment online

2

2

Comfort, quality of life

66

58

Living in a vibrant urban neighborhood

4

5

Living comfortably

41

40

Other

1

1

Providing a comfortable quality of life for your family

40

28

Personal happiness

52

58

Pursuing happiness

21

25

Being free to pursue your personal or professional passions

17

20

A healthy balance between my professional and personal lives

17

17

Ranked by Gen Pop

Parents

NonParent

Financial Security

77

82

Achieving financial security

36

Being debt-free

Q139. Which of the following are most important to your, personal, American Dream? Please select top 5 that apply.

The American Dream in their own words

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015
“Ability to afford a home, a good education at
reasonable cost, a job that would provide
stepping stone for advancement.” – Broad Elite

“Live in a world where it is healthy to breathe clean air, drink clean water,
have access to low cost medical care. Provide for your family and have a
roof of their head. Not be afraid to go out for fear of being shot or killed.”
– Gen Pop

“Able to have free or inexpensive medical care, reasonably
priced housing, reasonably priced education, lots of job
opportunities with a reasonable wage.” – Gen Pop

“Being able to work hard and get ahead.”
– Broad Elite

“Being able to get a good education and
buy a home without being in debt the
rest of your life.” – Gen Pop

“Own a home, good education for kids,
no debt.” – Broad Elite

19

“The ability to come up from nothing to achieve
a comfortable life.” – Broad Elite

“Having enough of what you need to be comfortable and
enough to share with those who have little. A home to live
in, clothes to wear, food to eat. Friends to share with and
a family close enough to visit with.” – Gen Pop

“It’s different for every individual, it has no one
definition.” – Broad Elite

“Next generation should do better than the previous
generation.” – Gen Pop

“Where a person can achieve
their goals .” – Broad Elite

“Depends on your circumstances, for
some it is just making it to tomorrow while
others it is making the next billion.”
– Gen Pop

“Financial stability along with pursuing your
passions.” – Broad Elite

“Stability in the economy, freedom from terrorism, safe
community environment, less government, good jobs.”
– Gen Pop

Most believe that the key characteristics of the American Dream are achievable

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

How Attainable are the Most Important Characteristics of the American Dream?
Top 10 Most Important Elements of American Dream Shown
Top 2 Box Shown
Ranked by Most Important

76

87

82

77
68

Broad Elite

92
85

74

78

53

Q140.mA-Q170.mA. How attainable are each of the following for the average American?

82
72

62

60

20

GenPop
94
89

49

52

87

92

Americans most commonly see the American Dream as Inspiring, Motivating,
and Patriotic

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Characteristics Associated with the American Dream
Gen Pop
57

44

Broad Elites

57

43

42
37

36
27

27 27

27
23

21

21
17

18

20
17

17
11
7

Inspiring

21

Motivating

Patriotic

Essential

Realistic

Old-Fashioned

Q129. Which of the following do you associate with the term “American Dream”? Please select all that apply.

Misleading

Cliché

Impossible

Unique

5

Fraudulent

7

5

Irrelevant

3

2

Other

Younger audiences think that the American Dream is Inspiring or Motivating, but are also more
likely to view it as Old-fashioned, Misleading, and Cliché

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Characteristics Associated with the American Dream
30 or under

31-50

51-64

65+

58
52
49

47

43

41
38 38

40

38
35

33

32

35 36

35
28

27
23

27

33

29
24

21

20 19

19 18
14

21

20
17

16

17

15

19 18

17
14

11

13

11
8
5 5

Motivating

22

Inspiring

Old-Fashioned

Misleading

Patriotic

Cliché

Q129. Which of the following do you associate with the term “American Dream”? Please select all that apply.

Realistic

Impossible

Essential

Unique

3

5 4

Irrelevant

Fraudulent

2 1

4 5

Other

When asked directly, roughly half of all respondents indicate that getting
married and having children are part of the American Dream

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Millennials especially view marriage and children as part of the American Dream
Is Marriage Part of the American Dream?
% Yes Shown

Is Having Children Part of the American Dream?
% Yes Shown

62

62
51

51

55

51

57

55

53
48

47
42

Gen Pop

23

Elites

30 or under

Q175. Do you think getting married is part of the American dream?
Q176. Do you think having children is part of the American dream?

31-50

51-64

65+

Gen Pop

Elites

30 or under

31-50

51-64

65+

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

THE STATE OF THE
AMERICAN DREAM
24

Half of the general population and three quarters of Elites believe they are
living the American Dream

72% believe they are currently living or will be able to attain the dream in the future

Do you believe you are living the American Dream?
Not living the dream, and don't believe they can

Not living the dream, but believe they can

Living the dream

50
72

22
14
28
14
Gen Pop

25

Q130. Do you believe you are living the American Dream?
Q132. Do you believe you will have the opportunity to achieve the American Dream in your lifetime?

Broad Elites

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Older Americans and Asians are most likely to believe they have achieved
the Dream

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Those who are both older and have not yet achieved the Dream are less likely to think they will have the
opportunity to achieve the Dream
White Americans are the least optimistic about their opportunity to achieve the Dream
Do you believe you are living the American Dream?
Not living the dream, and don't believe they can

41

48

51

Not living the dream, but believe they can

51

43

55

55

28

27

19

17

18

African American

Latino/Hispanic

Asian

66
36

26

12

17

39

7

26

24

26

30 or under

31-50

37
51-64

Q130. Do you believe you are living the American Dream?
Q132. Do you believe you will have the opportunity to achieve the American Dream in your lifetime?

26

32

65+

White

Living the dream

Attaining security for themselves or their children is key issue for many in
determining whether they believe they have achieved the American Dream

I believe that I am living the American Dream
because…

“I have achieved more in education and financially
than my parents and grandparents.” – Gen Pop

“Because so far I've been able to do the things that I
feel define it for me and it appears as though my
children will have at least that same opportunity now
that their time is fast approaching.” – Broad Elite

27

Q131. Why do you believe [you are/ are not living the American Dream]?

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

I do not believe that I am living the American
Dream because…
“Because I struggle to pay all the bills that I have to
keep a roof over my families head, and also put food on
the table.” – Gen Pop

“Our government is limiting our ability to attain the
American Dream. They are taking away capitalism
and gaining too much control.” – Broad Elite

“No house with the picket
fence for me! No happily
ever after.” – Gen Pop

Americans who are living the Dream are much more secure about their
finances

Feelings About Personal Financial Security
Very Secure

Somewhat Secure

Somewhat Insecure

Very Insecure
7

29
42
85
56
32

13

19

2

Living the Dream

28

Q16. How secure do you feel about your personal financial situation?

Not Living the Dream

49

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Most Americans believe that the American Dream is “suffering”

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

The American Dream is…
Alive and Well

Gen Pop

Broad Elites

29

Q128. Which of the following is closer to your view?

25

Suffering

75

35

65

Younger and Non-White Americans are more optimistic about the state of the American Dream

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

The American Dream is…
Alive and Well

Suffering

Alive and Well

30 or younger

31

69

White

31-50

29

71

African-American

51-64

65+

30

The American Dream is…

17

21

Q128. Which of the following is closer to your view?

83

79

Latino/Hispanic

Asian

19

Suffering

81

43

36

57

64

47

53

Americans perceive the obstacles to attaining the American Dream to be more
severe today than in the past
Obstacles to Realizing the
American Dream
Obstacles to realizing the American Dream are more severe today than ever
Obstacles to realizing the American Dream are no more severe today than they’ve ever been

Gen Pop

Broad Elites

31

Q202. Which of the following is closer to your view?

31

34

69

66

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Older and White/ Hispanic Americans are more likely to believe the obstacles to the Dream are
more severe than ever

Obstacles to Realizing the
American Dream
Obstacles to realizing the American Dream are no more severe today than they’ve
ever been
Obstacles to realizing the American Dream are more severe today than ever

68

White

31-50

33

67

African-American

65+

32

31

Q202. Which of the following is closer to your view?

73

69

June 2015

Obstacles to realizing the American Dream are no more severe today than they’ve
ever been
Obstacles to realizing the American Dream are more severe today than ever

32

27

The American Dream

Obstacles to Realizing the
American Dream

30 or younger

51-64

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

Latino/Hispanic

Asian

30

70

42

24

58

76

35

65

Most believe that attaining the American Dream will be harder for their kids or
future generations

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Future Generations Attaining the American DreamBottom 2 Box “Much + Somewhat Harder” Shown
Gen Pop

Broad Elites

73

70

Harder

33

Q136. Do you think it will be harder or easier for your children or future generations to achieve the American Dream?
(Top 2 Box: Much Harder + Somewhat Harder)

Americans are split on whether the American Dream is attainable by most or
only a few Americans

Elites are more optimistic
The American Dream is…
Attainable by most Americans

Gen Pop

Broad Elites

34

Q133. Which of the following is closer to your view?

51

Attainable by only a few

49

62

38

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Younger and Financially Insecure Americans are more likely to believe the Dream is only
attainable by a few

The American Dream is…
Attainable by most Americans

30 or younger

Attainable by only a few

45

55

Attainable by most Americans

Financially Secure

48

52

Financially Insecure

African-American

51-64

49

51

Latino/Hispanic

Q133. Which of the following is closer to your view?

40

Asian

59

51

June 2015

Attainable by most Americans

50

49

60

Attainable by only a few

50

51

The American Dream

The American Dream is…

White

31-50

65+

35

The American Dream is…

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

41

49

Attainable by only a few

60

32

40

68

The American Dream remains relevant and important to what it means to be
an American

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Relevance of the American Dream
Remains a relevant and important

Gen Pop

Broad Elites

36

Q137. Which of the following is closer to your view?

72

Dated and no longer important

28

80

20

Most believe the Dream is achievable if you work for it

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

The American Dream is…
No longer a possibility for most Americans no matter how hard they work

Gen Pop

Broad Elites

37

Q134. Which of the following is closer to your view?

65

Still achievable for those who are willing to work for it

35

71

29

Older and Non-White Americans are more likely to believe that the American Dream is still
achievable if you work for it

The American Dream is…

66

34

White

31-50

65

35

African-American

65+

38

Q134. Which of the following is closer to your view?

69

June 2015

No longer a possibility for most Americans no matter how hard they work
Still achievable for those who are willing to work for it

30 or younger

61

The American Dream

The American Dream is…

No longer a possibility for most Americans no matter how hard they work
Still achievable for those who are willing to work for it

51-64

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

39

31

63

37

74

26

Latino/Hispanic

70

30

Asian

72

28

Hard work is more important to achieving the Dream than where you are born
or Luck

Factors Involved inAttaining the American Dream
Gen Pop

Broad Elites

67
61

28

24
11

Circumstances you are born into

39

Q135. Which of the following has the most impact on your ability to attain the American Dream?

Hard work

9

Luck

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

BARRIERS TO THE
AMERICAN DREAM
40

Decline in work ethic, rules favoring the wealthy and personal debt are
frequently mentioned barriers to the American Dream

Top 3 Barriers/Obstacles to The Dream

41

Gen Pop

Broad
Elites

Decline of work ethic

22

23

Decline of values/moral standards

20

Personal debt

Top 3 Barriers/Obstacles to The Dream
(Cont.)

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Gen Pop

Broad
Elites

Racial discrimination

10

12

21

Political Gridlock

10

11

20

17

10

10

Rules favor the wealthy

19

17

Lack of government policies to support
economic growth

Lack of economic opportunity

18

14

Access to affordable housing

10

9

Economic inequality

17

21

Too much immigration

10

7

Big government

17

19

Lack of socio-economic mobility

7

9

Decline of the middle class

17

15

Lack of government support for programs for
the disadvantaged

7

6

Cost of healthcare

15

12

Erosion of personal liberties

6

7

High government spending

14

16

Lack of immigration reform

6

6

Unequal access to education

13

15

Gender discrimination

5

6

Obamacare

12

8

Excessive government regulations

11

13

Lack of access to technology tools and
training

5

5

Q178.mA. Please rank each of the following from the greatest barrier/ obstacle to achieving the American Dream to the least.

Top Answers

Lack of Opportunity is the most frequently mentioned theme about barriers to
the American Dream

Top 3 Barriers/Obstacle Themes to The
Dream

Gen Pop

Broad
Elites

Lack of opportunity

71

67

Rules favor the wealthy

19

Lack of economic opportunity

The American Dream

June 2015

Gen Pop

Broad
Elites

Values

36

38

17

Decline of work ethic

22

23

18

14

Decline of values/moral standards

20

21

Economic inequality

17

21

Erosion of personal liberties

6

7

Decline of the middle class

17

15

Personal debt

20

17

Unequal access to education

13

15

Cost of healthcare

15

12

Access to affordable housing

10

9

Discrimination

14

17

Lack of socio-economic mobility

7

9

Racial discrimination

10

12

Lack of government support for programs for the
disadvantaged

7

6

Gender discrimination

5

6

Lack of access to technology tools and training

5

5

Political gridlock

10

11

Government

46

48

Too much immigration

10

7

Big government

17

19

Lack of immigration reform

6

6

High government spending

14

16

Obamacare

12

8

Excessive government regulations

11

13

Lack of government policies to support economic
growth

10

10

Ranked by Gen Pop

42

Top 3 Barriers/Obstacle Themes to The
Dream
(Cont.)

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

Q178.mA. Please rank each of the following from the greatest barrier/ obstacle to achieving the American Dream to the least.

Republicans view Government as the biggest barrier to the dream, while
Democrats and Independents view it as Lack of Opportunity

Top 3 Barriers/Obstacle Themes to The
Dream

The American Dream

June 2015

Democrat

Independent

Republican

Values

26

38

44

10

Decline of work ethic

14

24

28

18

10

Decline of values/moral standards

14

20

26

22

19

13

Erosion of personal liberties

3

7

8

Decline of the middle class

18

16

16

Personal debt

21

18

20

Unequal access to education

16

14

9

Discrimination

21

10

9

Access to affordable housing

13

10

7

Racial discrimination

16

7

6

Lack of government support for programs for the
disadvantaged

10

6

3

Gender discrimination

7

3

3

Lack of socio-economic mobility

7

8

7

Cost of healthcare

14

17

12

Lack of access to technology tools and training

5

6

3

Political gridlock

11

8

11

Government

37

45

58

Too much immigration

7

10

13

Lack of government policies to support economic growth

11

9

9

Lack of immigration reform

5

6

7

Big government

9

18

25

High government spending

9

16

18

Obamacare

9

10

18

Excessive government regulations

8

10

17

Democrat

Independent

Republican

Lack of opportunity

82

74

54

Rules favor the wealthy

27

18

Economic inequality

24

Lack of economic opportunity

Ranked by Democrat

43

Top 3 Barriers/Obstacles Themes to The
Dream
(Cont.)

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

Q178.mA. Please rank each of the following from the greatest barrier/ obstacle to achieving the American Dream to the least.

All ethnicities mention Inequality most frequently when thinking about barriers to
the American Dream

Top 3 Barriers/Obstacle Themes to
The Dream

White

AfricanAmerican

Latino/
Hispanic

Asian

Lack of opportunity

67

84

77

82

Rules favor the wealthy

18

20

18

Lack of economic opportunity

17

18

Economic inequality

17

Decline of the middle class

The American Dream

June 2015

White

AfricanAmerican

Latino/
Hispanic

Asian

Values

39

34

23

23

32

Decline of work ethic

24

17

17

6

22

23

Decline of values/moral standards

22

22

12

11

18

20

15

Erosion of personal liberties

6

4

4

9

18

15

16

11

Personal debt

19

21

20

22

Unequal access to education

11

16

17

17

Cost of healthcare

16

11

13

18

Access to affordable housing

10

10

11

11

Political gridlock

10

7

7

10

Lack of government support for programs for the
disadvantaged

6

10

6

9

Too much immigration

11

2

13

11

Lack of socio-economic mobility

7

11

8

7

Discrimination

9

32

22

17

Lack of access to technology tools and training

4

7

6

10

Racial discrimination

6

28

16

11

Government

48

41

46

40

Gender discrimination

4

8

7

8

Big government

20

5

12

15

Lack of immigration reform

5

7

8

6

High government spending

16

9

12

8

Excessive government regulations

13

8

6

11

Obamacare

13

8

16

6

Lack of government policies to support economic
growth

8

17

13

12

Ranked by White

44

Top 3 Barriers/Obstacles Themes to
The Dream
(Cont.)

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

Q178.mA. Please rank each of the following from the greatest barrier/ obstacle to achieving the American Dream to the least.

The majority of respondents think action needs to be taken immediately to
reduce the barriers to the Dream

Does Action Need to Be Taken to Reduce Barriers to the American Dream
74

Gen Pop

Broad Elites

68

19
15

Yes, immediately

45

Q203. Does action need to be taken to reduce the barriers to the American Dream?

Yes, in the future

13

11

No

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

More government cooperation and increased educational opportunities are
suggested ways to reduce barriers to the Dream

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

What can be done to reduce barriers to the American Dream…
Asked only of those who believe action needs to be taken

“Improving the education system, raise taxes on the rich, and give more resources
to the lower class.” – Gen Pop

“Get rid of many government regulations, reduce taxes, enforce current law rather
than creating multiple new laws.” – Broad Elite

“Make college affordable, stop policies that encourage
companies to either ship jobs overseas or only use parttime help, increase wages, and rein in healthcare costs.”
– Gen Pop

46

Q204. What can be done to reduce the barriers to the American Dream?

“Reduce government spending. Reduce big government. Lower
taxes.” – Broad Elite

Making college free or much more affordable and Reducing government
spending are among top three ways to reduce barriers to American Dream

Reducing Barriers to The American Dream

The American Dream

June 2015

Gen Pop

Broad
Elites

Increase taxes on corporations

9

11

19

Reduce political partisanship

9

13

21

18

Immigration reform

8

10

Increase economic growth by cutting taxes

20

23

Eliminate regulations that limit personal liberties

7

8

Increase minimum wage nationwide

20

16

Increase funding of anti-poverty programs

7

6

Fix our public schools

17

18

Increase support for entrepreneurship

6

8

Reduce immigration

14

12

End gender-based discrimination

5

4

Emphasize work ethic and personal accountability

14

17

Repeal Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act)

14

14

Increase economic growth by reducing regulation

13

16

Provide free job training

12

7

Expand access to free healthcare

11

10

Improve access to quality education in poor
communities

10

17

End race-based discrimination

10

9

Expand access to affordable housing

10

6

Gen Pop

Broad
Elites

Make college free or much more affordable

24

23

Reduce government spending

23

Increase taxes on the wealthy

Ranked by Gen Pop

47

Reducing Barriers to The American Dream
(cont.)

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

Q205. Which of the following could have the most impact in reducing the barriers to the American Dream? Please select your top three.

Top Answers

Americans believe that policies to Expand Access/Opportunities would have the
most impact in reducing barriers to American Dream

Reducing Barriers to The American Dream
Gen Pop

Broad
Elites

1690*

453*

Expanding access/opportunities

55

Make college free or much more affordable

The American Dream

June 2015

Gen Pop

Broad
Elites

Work ethic, entrepreneurship

20

23

50

Emphasize work ethic and personal accountability

14

17

24

23

Increase support for entrepreneurship

6

8

Provide free job training

12

7

Discrimination

19

16

Expand access to free healthcare

11

10

End race-based discrimination

10

9

Improve access to quality education in poor communities

10

17

End gender-based discrimination

5

4

Expand access to affordable housing

10

6

Fix our public schools

17

18

Increase funding of anti-poverty programs

7

6

Reduce government

Reduce immigration

14

12

52

53

Reduce government spending

23

19

Reduce political partisanship

9

13

Increase economic growth by cutting taxes

20

23

Immigration reform

8

10

Repeal Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act)

14

14

Other

2

2

Increase economic growth by reducing regulation

13

16

Eliminate regulations that limit personal liberties

7

8

Redistribution

41

35

Increase taxes on the wealthy

21

18

Increase minimum wage nationwide

20

16

Increase taxes on corporations

9

11

Ranked by Gen Pop

N-size

48

Reducing Barriers to The American Dream
(cont.)

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

Q205. Which of the following could have the most impact in reducing the barriers to the American Dream? Please select your top three.

*Asked of only those that indicated action needs to be taken

Democrats and Independents focus on Expand Access/Opportunities to reduce
barriers to the Dream, while Republicans Focus on Reducing Government

Reducing Barriers to The American Dream
Ranked by Democrat

Democrat Independent Republican
N-Size

49

Reducing Barriers to The American Dream
(cont.)

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Democrat Independent Republican

Discrimination

19

18

20

38

End race-based discrimination

16

8

4

23

18

End gender-based discrimination

9

4

2

14

11

7

Fix our public schools

18

18

17

Improve access to quality education in poor communities

13

11

6

Work ethic, entrepreneurship

14

21

29

Provide free job training

12

14

8

Emphasize work ethic and personal accountability

9

15

23

Expand access to affordable housing

12

10

6

Increase support for entrepreneurship

5

8

7

Increase funding of anti-poverty programs

10

6

3

Reduce immigration

11

15

18

Redistribution

57

37

27

Reduce political partisanship

7

9

9

Increase taxes on the wealthy

28

20

15

Increase minimum wage nationwide

29

19

10

Immigration reform

7

10

10

Increase taxes on corporations

12

8

6

Reduce government

36

52

71

Reduce government spending

15

23

31

Increase economic growth by cutting taxes

13

21

27

Repeal Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act)

7

13

24

Increase economic growth by reducing regulation

5

13

24

Eliminate regulations that limit personal liberties

4

7

11

593*

496*

465*

Expanding access/opportunities

68

56

Make college free or much more affordable

31

Expand access to free healthcare

Q205. Which of the following could have the most impact in reducing the barriers to the American Dream? Please select your top three.

*Asked of only those that indicated action needs to be taken

All ethnicities believe that Reduce Government has the most impact in reducing
barriers to American Dream

Reducing Barriers to The American
Dream
Ranked by White
N-Size

50

White

AfricanLatino/
American Hispanic

Asian

Reducing Barriers to The American
Dream (cont.)

White

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

AfricanLatino/
American Hispanic

Asian

1285*

155*

129*

89*

Work ethic, entrepreneurship

22

16

15

26

Reduce government

56

42

36

49

Emphasize work ethic and personal accountability

17

10

9

13

Reduce government spending

26

16

11

15

Increase support for entrepreneurship

7

7

5

12

Increase economic growth by cutting taxes

21

17

12

21

Discrimination

19

17

23

19

Repeal Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act)

17

5

7

11

End race-based discrimination

6

30

11

14

Increase economic growth by reducing regulation

15

6

8

17

End gender-based discrimination

4

6

10

8

Eliminate regulations that limit personal liberties

8

5

7

4

Fix our public schools

16

22

16

17

Expanding access/opportunities

50

68

67

64

Reduce immigration

16

11

14

11

Make college free or much more affordable

23

32

26

23

Reduce political partisanship

11

3

4

4

Provide free job training

10

11

18

18

Expand access to free healthcare

10

9

16

16

Immigration reform

8

6

11

8

Improve access to quality education in poor
communities

10

13

8

21

Expand access to affordable housing

9

13

15

4

Increase funding of anti-poverty programs

6

6

11

7

Redistribution

39

53

43

39

Increase taxes on the wealthy

21

24

23

18

Increase minimum wage nationwide

19

32

21

17

Increase taxes on corporations

9

4

10

9

Q205. Which of the following could have the most impact in reducing the barriers to the American Dream? Please select your top three.

*Asked of only those that indicated action needs to be taken

Americans believe the Government, and individuals are most responsible for
overcoming barriers to the American Dream

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Responsible Parties for Overcoming Barriers to the American Dream
Gen Pop
44

43

40

40

7

51

Broad Elites

Q206. Who has the primary responsibility for overcoming the barriers to the American Dream ?

6

3

2

2

3

4

6

Roughly one-third of Americans believe race is an important factor for attaining
the American Dream, though most don’t believe it has affected them personally

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

However over half of both audiences believe it has made it more difficult for them
The Impact of Race on Achieving the American Dream

The Importance of Race and Availability of The American Dream
Race is not an important factor

Race is an important factor

Probably makes it more difficult for me

Probably has no impact for me

Probably helps me

Gen Pop

Broad Elites

52

34

39

66

61

Q173. Which of the following is closer to your view?
Q174. How does your race impact your ability to achieve the American dream?

Gen Pop

Broad Elites

22

60

30

18

53

17

African-Americans believe that race is an important factor in the availability of
the American Dream and has affected them personally

The Importance of Race and Availability of The American Dream

Race is not an important factor

White

25

75

African-American

Latino/Hispanic

Race is an important factor

47

40

Probably makes it more difficult for me

45

African-American

Probably has no impact for me

24

11

68

32

8

57

53
22

48

30

55
Asian

53

June 2015

Probably helps me

Latino/Hispanic
Asian

The American Dream

The Impact of Race on Achieving the American Dream

White

60

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

Q173. Which of the following is closer to your view?
Q174. How does your race impact your ability to achieve the American dream?

31

49

20

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

PERCEPTIONS OF
AMERICA TODAY
54

Americans are worried about the direction of the nation today, but hopeful
for tomorrow

America’s Current Course
Currently on the right track

Gen Pop

Broad Elites

55

36

43

57

Q31. Which of the following is closer to your view? (Right track/Wrong track)
Q32. Which of the following is closer to your view? (Best days still ahead, Best days behind us)

The American Dream

June 2015

America’s Best Days

America’s best days are already behind it
America’s best days are still ahead of it

Currently on the wrong track

64

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

Gen Pop

Broad Elites

55

45

64

36

57% of Americans who believe they are living the Dream believe America
is on the wrong track

The American Dream

June 2015

38% believe America’s best days are behind it

America’s Current Course
Currently on the right track

Living the Dream

Not Living the Dream

56

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

Currently on the wrong track

43

28

57

72

Q31. Which of the following is closer to your view? (Right track/Wrong track)
Q32. Which of the following is closer to your view? (Best days still ahead, Best days behind us)

America’s Best Days

America’s best days are already behind it
America’s best days are still ahead of it

Living the Dream

Not Living the Dream

62

47

38

53

62% Americans who are satisfied with their lives believe America is on the
wrong track

The American Dream

June 2015

42% believe America’s best days are behind it

America’s Current Course
Currently on the right track

Satisfied With Life

Dissatisfied With Life

57

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

Currently on the wrong track

38

20

62

80

Q31. Which of the following is closer to your view? (Right track/Wrong track)
Q32. Which of the following is closer to your view? (Best days still ahead, Best days behind us)

America’s Best Days

America’s best days are already behind it
America’s best days are still ahead of it

Satisfied With Life

Dissatisfied With Life

58

34

42

66

Older Americans are more likely to Believe America is on the Wrong Track

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

America’s Current Course
Currently on the right track

30 or younger

39

61

30 or younger

58

42

31-50

40

60

31-50

57

43

51-64

65+

58

Currently on the wrong track

America’s Best Days

America’s best days are already behind it
America’s best days are still ahead of it

30

27

70

73

Q31. Which of the following is closer to your view? (Right track/Wrong track)
Q32. Which of the following is closer to your view? (Best days still ahead, Best days behind us)

51-64

65+

49

52

51

47

White Americans are far more pessimistic than other major ethnic groups

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

America’s Current Course
Currently on the right track

White

27

Asian

59

Currently on the wrong track

73

African-American

Latino/Hispanic

America’s Best Days

White

63

48

37

Q31. Which of the following is closer to your view? (Right track/Wrong track)
Q32. Which of the following is closer to your view? (Best days still ahead, Best days behind us)

40

48

52

African-American

Latino/Hispanic

52

60

America’s best days are already behind it
America’s best days are still ahead of it

Asian

80

63

20

37

73

25

Most Americans identify themselves as middle class

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Do you consider yourself wealthy, middle class or poor?
Poor

3

11

69

Middle class

4

4

2

70

67

67

26

29

30

Wealthy

3

77

2

5

71

64

27

31

8

3

68

76

24

21

86

28
3

60

Q207. Do you consider yourself wealthy, middle class or poor?

20

Most Americans believe the middle class remains central to health of
American society

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Role of the Middle Class
The middle class remains central to the stability and health of American society
The middle class has lost its historic role and importance in American society

Gen Pop

Broad Elites

61

55

45

64

Q33. Which of the following statements is closest to your own view about the role and importance of the middle class in America?

36

Younger and Non-White Americans believe more strongly that the middle class
remains central to American society

Role of the Middle Class

31-50

62

60

55

The American Dream

June 2015

Role of the Middle Class

The middle class remains central to the stability and health of American society
The middle class has lost its historic role and importance in American society

30 or younger

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

40

45

The middle class remains central to the stability and health of American society
The middle class has lost its historic role and importance in American society

White

African-American

51-64

51

49

Latino/Hispanic

65+

52

48

Asian

Q33. Which of the following statements is closest to your own view about the role and importance of the middle class in America?

51

49

60

68

59

40

32

39

Healthcare costs top the list of problems in America today

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Problems in America

63

Too much government
spending and the National
debt follow closely behind
for all respondents
Broad Elites also rank
Taxes are too high,
Economic in quality, and
Political gridlock as
significant problems
Gen Pop sees
Unemployment and Illegal
immigration as significant

Ranked by Gen Pop

Gen Pop

Broad Elites

Healthcare costs

29

28

National debt

23

23

Too much government spending

22

25

Unemployment

20

18

Illegal immigration

20

17

Taxes are too high

18

20

Terrorism

18

20

Economic inequality

16

20

Too much government regulation

16

15

Political gridlock

14

20

Failing schools and education

14

16

Lack of good jobs

14

11

Social and cultural problems

11

11

Racial discrimination

10

10

Personal debt

10

9

Climate change

8

13

Q34. Which of the following are the most significant problems in America today? Please select your top 3.

Top Answers

Younger Americans focus on issues of Unemployment, while Older Americans
are more concerned about Illegal Immigration
Problems in America

30 or younger

31-50

51-64

65+

Unemployment

27

21

17

14

National debt

26

20

24

28

Healthcare costs

24

26

36

29

Taxes are too high

18

19

19

11

Too much government spending

18

18

24

31

Economic inequality

18

17

12

18

Personal debt

17

12

7

3

Failing schools and education

16

15

13

13

Lack of good jobs

15

18

12

8

Too much government regulation

15

13

18

23

Racial discrimination

15

10

9

6

Illegal immigration

12

19

23

28

Social and cultural problems

11

13

9

8

Access to quality education

11

4

3

4

Lack of opportunity to improve your life

10

7

4

2

Terrorism

9

16

24

24

Housing costs

8

12

7

3

Climate change

6

7

9

9

Political gridlock

5

12

17

29

Ranked by 30 or Younger

64

Q34. Which of the following are the most significant problems in America today? Please select your top 3.

Top Answers

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

African and Hispanic Americans are concerned about Social and Economic
Inequality issues, while White Americans focus on the Government
Problems in America

The American Dream

June 2015

White

AfricanAmerican

Latino/Hispanic

Asian

Healthcare costs

30

18

30

23

National debt

25

21

17

27

Too much government spending

25

11

16

14

Illegal immigration

23

10

13

16

Too much government regulation

21

3

8

13

Terrorism

19

18

14

16

Unemployment

18

31

24

25

Taxes are too high

17

21

16

23

Political gridlock

16

10

9

9

Economic inequality

15

16

26

9

Lack of good jobs

14

18

12

15

Failing schools and education

14

14

17

12

Personal debt

10

16

10

13

Social and cultural problems

10

15

9

16

Climate change

8

5

10

9

Racial discrimination

6

29

15

10

Housing costs

6

10

19

10

Access to quality education

4

5

9

12

Ranked by White

65

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

Q34. Which of the following are the most significant problems in America today? Please select your top 3.

Top Answers

Focus on Inequality: little consensus on how to solve the problem

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

66

Broad Elites also think reducing the national
debt, cutting taxes, improving access to
quality education in poor communities and
emphasizing work ethic and personal
accountability will impact economic
inequality.
For Gen Pop increasing the minimum wage
nationwide and reducing the national debt
are also important to reduce economic
inequality.

Reducing Economic Inequality

Gen Pop

Broad
Elites

Increase taxes on wealthy

34

31

Reduce national debt

26

27

Increase minimum wage nationwide

26

24

Cut taxes

23

26

Improve access to quality education in poor communities

20

26

Repeal Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act)

20

22

Emphasize work ethic and personal accountability

19

26

Reduce immigration

18

16

Expand access to free healthcare

17

16

Reduce government regulation

16

18

Increase taxes on corporations

15

17

Provide free job training

12

12

Increase funding of anti-poverty programs

9

10

Support growth of labor unions

6

7

Reduce foreign trade

6

5

Increase foreign trade

3

4

None of these

5

1

Ranked by Gen Pop

Q124. Which of the following could have the most impact in reducing the economic inequality? Please select only 3.

Top Answers

Across age groups, Americans believe Increasing taxes on wealthy will reduce
economic inequality
Reducing Economic Inequality

30 or
younger

31-50

51-64

65+

Increase taxes on wealthy

35

33

32

37

Increase minimum wage nationwide

29

28

26

18

Expand access to free healthcare

26

16

14

9

Reduce national debt

24

21

27

37

Cut taxes

19

24

27

21

Improve access to quality education in poor
communities

17

20

19

24

Increase taxes on corporations

16

14

14

15

Repeal Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act)

15

18

24

25

Reduce immigration

14

18

19

25

Provide free job training

14

13

12

9

Emphasize work ethic and personal accountability

13

18

23

25

Reduce government regulation

13

13

18

24

Support growth of labor unions

8

7

3

6

Increase funding of anti-poverty programs

7

10

10

5

Reduce foreign trade

7

7

4

6

Increase foreign trade

4

3

3

4

None of these

7

6

4

1

Ranked by 30 or Younger

67

Q124. Which of the following could have the most impact in reducing the economic inequality? Please select only 3.

Top Answers

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

White Americans are most likely to believe Reducing National Debt will help solve
economic inequality
Reducing Economic Inequality

White

Ranked by White

68

AfricanLatino/
American Hispanic

Asian

Increase taxes on wealthy

33

34

39

38

Reduce national debt

28

21

17

25

Increase minimum wage nationwide

25

35

28

17

Repeal Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act)

25

5

12

14

Cut taxes

24

21

19

23

Reduce immigration

21

11

13

11

Emphasize work ethic and personal accountability

20

18

14

19

Improve access to quality education in poor
communities

18

26

18

31

Reduce government regulation

18

8

13

12

Expand access to free healthcare

15

16

26

15

Increase taxes on corporations

15

14

11

15

Provide free job training

10

22

15

10

Increase funding of anti-poverty programs

7

13

10

15

Reduce foreign trade

6

5

5

10

Support growth of labor unions

5

10

5

9

Increase foreign trade

3

3

5

4

None of these

4

6

10

6

Q124. Which of the following could have the most impact in reducing the economic inequality? Please select only 3.

Top Answers

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Democrats and Independents prefer increasing taxes on the wealthy to reduce
inequality, while Conservatives want to repeal Obamacare
Reducing Economic Inequality

69

Democrat

Independent

Republican

Increase taxes on wealthy

46

35

19

Increase minimum wage nationwide

36

26

12

Improve access to quality education in poor
communities

24

20

15

Reduce national debt

20

26

35

Expand access to free healthcare

20

18

9

Increase taxes on corporations

19

17

7

Cut taxes

18

22

32

Provide free job training

16

14

7

Emphasize work ethic and personal accountability

13

21

23

Reduce immigration

12

19

26

Repeal Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act)

11

17

38

Increase funding of anti-poverty programs

11

8

4

Support growth of labor unions

7

7

4

Reduce government regulation

6

16

29

Reduce foreign trade

6

6

6

Increase foreign trade

3

2

4

None of these

4

5

5

Q124. Which of the following could have the most impact in reducing the economic inequality? Please select only 3.

Top Answers

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Focus on Inequality: Concentration of wealth not a problem so long as they are able to provide
for themselves and their family

Over half of Broad Elites and two-thirds of Gen Pop view this as long as they can provide the life they want
for themselves and their families

Perceived Concentration of Wealth
The concentration of wealth and privilege within the top 1% of American society is a problem
As long as I am able provide the life I want for myself and my family, it doesn’t matter if others are
substantially wealthier than me

Gen Pop

Broad Elites

70

Q123 Which of the following is closer to your view?

64

58

36

42

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Younger and Hispanic Americans are more likely to believe that the concentration of wealth in the
1% is a problem

June 2015

Perceived Concentration of Wealth

Perceived Concentration of Wealth
Thelong
As
concentration
as I am able
of provide
wealth and
the life
privilege
I want within
for myself
the top
and1%
myoffamily,
American
it doesn’t
society
matter
is a if
others are substantially wealthier than me
problem

31-50

51-64

65+

Q123 Which of the following is closer to your view?

The American Dream

Thelong
As
concentration
as I am able
ofprovide
wealth and
the life
privilege
I want within
for myself
the top
and1%
myoffamily,
American
it doesn’t
society
matter
is a if
others are substantially wealthier than me
problem

30 or younger

71

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

63

60

37

40

68

70

32

30

White

67

33

African-American

66

34

Latino/Hispanic

Asian

54

57

46

43

Focus on Inequality: As long as all have opportunity, Americans believe it is okay
that some people fail to achieve their goals

As long as everyone has roughly the same opportunity based on their effort and merit.

If opportunity was all equal, would it be okay that some do not achieve their goals?
Yes

Gen Pop

Broad Elites

72

Q125. If everyone had roughly the same opportunity to achieve their goals based on their own effort and merit,
would it still be okay that some people in America do not achieve their goals?

76

No

24

84

16

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Older and White Americans are most likely to believe that it is okay for some in America to not
achieve their goals, as long as opportunity is equal

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

If opportunity was all equal, would it be okay that some do not achieve their goals?
Yes

No

Yes

30 or younger

71

29

White

31-50

74

26

African-American

51-64

65+

73

If opportunity was all equal, would it be okay that some do not achieve their goals?

80

85

20

15

Q125. If everyone had roughly the same opportunity to achieve their goals based on their own effort and merit,
would it still be okay that some people in America do not achieve their goals?

Latino/Hispanic

Asian

No

80

66

72

64

20

34

28

36

Focus on Inequality: Americans are unsure if technology is helping or hurting

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Technology/Opportunities
Technology creates opportunities for only some Americans

Gen Pop

Broad Elites

74

Q126. Which of the following is closer to your view?

51

Technology creates opportunities for all Americans

49

62

38

Hispanic and Asian Americans are more likely to believe technology helps create opportunities
for all Americans

The American Dream

June 2015

There is little difference in perceptions of technology’s aid in opportunities among age groups

Technology/Opportunities

Technology/Opportunities

Technology creates opportunities for all Americans
Technology creates opportunities for only some Americans

30 or younger

55

45

Technology creates opportunities for all Americans
Technology creates opportunities for only some Americans

White

49

51

51

49

31-50

49

51

African-American

51-64

49

51

Latino/Hispanic

65+

75

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

52

Q126. Which of the following is closer to your view?

48

Asian

61

58

39

42

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

PERSONAL
PREFERENCES &
PRIORITIES
76

Most Americans consider suburban neighborhoods closest to their “ideal” in
terms of where to live neighborhood

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Ideal Place to Live
Something else

In a more rural area

Gen Pop

Broad Elites

77

Q23. Which of the following is closer to your ideal in terms of where to live?

In a vibrant urban neighborhood

53

In a family-oriented, suburban neighborhood

19

64

26

19

2

15

1

Millennials also prefer the suburbs and are only slightly more interested in urban
living than other age cohorts

30 or under

78

The American Dream

June 2015

Ideal Placed to Live

Ideal Placed to Live

In a family-oriented, suburban neighborhood
In a vibrant urban neighborhood
In a more rural area
Something else

In a family-oriented, suburban neighborhood
In a vibrant urban neighborhood
In a more rural area
Something else

52

31-50

54

51-64

53

65+

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

50

24

23

19

15

15

Q23. Which of the following is closer to your ideal in terms of where to live?

25

29

31

1

White

53

1

African-Americans

53

3

Latino/Hispanic

53

4

Asian

14

31

32

14

29

63

2

16

29

3

8

Most respondents have a PC, car, flat-screen TV and smart phone

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Broad Elites are more than twice as likely to have 6 months emergency savings and a retirement plan vs.
Gen Pop

Item Ownership
Gen Pop
89 90

94
85

91
82

94

88
76

Broad Elites

83

83

83
73

71
61

55

72

70

55
45
33

33
22
8

1
0

79

Q17. Which of the following items do you or your immediate family have or own? Please select all that apply.

Americans who do not believe they are living the American Dream have much
less in terms of savings or retirement planning than those living the Dream

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Item Ownership
Living the American Dream
88 89

88

81

84 81

80

73

71 70

71

Not Living the American Dream

67
59
50

44

51

58
47

45

31
19

20
11

80

Q17. Which of the following items do you or your immediate family have or own? Please select all that apply.

4

1 1

Americans want healthy balance, good money, flexibility and fun in their jobs

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015
Professional Goals

• Having flexibility in
when and where you
work and Making an
impact are also
important elements for
Broad Elites
• Proximity and flexibility
to a job such as
Working near where
you live or having an
easy commute and
Having flexibility in
when and where you
work are also
important for Gen Pop

81

Gen Pop

Broad
Elites

Having a good work/life balance

45

47

Pays a lot of money

37

39

Working near where you live or having an easy commute

30

21

Having flexibility in when and where you work

28

29

Working in a fun workplace environment

25

20

Reflects your personal passions

21

20

Making an impact

17

25

Working in a humane, nurturing workplace environment

13

11

Having opportunities for training and development

11

12

Being able to navigate your own career path

8

10

Being able to take on new professional challenges

8

16

Uses the most up-to-date technology

6

9

Being able to support social causes that are important to you

5

6

Encourages an entrepreneurial spirit

4

8

Traveling for work

4

10

Offers opportunities to work abroad

4

7

None of the above

9

2

Ranked by Gen Pop

Q30. Thinking a little more about your professional goals... Please pick the three things that would be the most important elements of
your ideal job situation. Please select your top 3.

Top Answers

Younger Americans want jobs that pay a lot of money and has work/life balance,
whereas older Americans want to have an easy commute
Professional Goals
Ranked by Gen Pop

82

30 or
Under

31-50

51-64

65+

Having a good work/life balance

45

49

45

37

Pays a lot of money

46

40

31

23

Working near where you live or having an easy commute

18

30

36

39

Having flexibility in when and where you work

27

31

30

21

Working in a fun workplace environment

30

22

28

21

Reflects your personal passions

28

20

19

15

Making an impact

20

16

16

17

Working in a humane, nurturing workplace environment

9

13

16

15

Having opportunities for training and development

11

13

9

11

Being able to navigate your own career path

9

8

7

8

Being able to take on new professional challenges

8

9

6

9

Uses the most up-to-date technology

7

7

5

4

Being able to support social causes that are important to you

6

5

5

6

Encourages an entrepreneurial spirit

6

4

4

2

Traveling for work

6

4

3

5

Offers opportunities to work abroad

3

5

3

3

None of the above

4

6

11

19

Q30. Thinking a little more about your professional goals... Please pick the three things that would be the most important elements of
your ideal job situation. Please select your top 3.

Top Answers

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

DEMOGRAPHICS

83

Demographics - Employment

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Employment

84

Gen Pop

Broad Elites

Employed by someone else, working 30 hours or
more per week

38

74

Employed part-time by someone else, working less
than 30 hours per week

9

4

Self-employed

7

9

Homemaker

12

5

Student

7

1

Retired

18

7

Disabled, unable to work

6

1

Unemployed, looking for work

6

1

Unemployed, not looking for work

2

0

Q6. Which of the following best describes your employment status? Please select all that apply.

Demographics – Gender, Age, Region, and Rural Area

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Gender
Gen Pop

Broad
Elites

Male

49

60

Female

51

40

Age
Gen Pop

Region
Gen Pop

Broad
Elites

Northeast

18

24

Midwest

23

20

South

39

34

West

20

22

Gen Pop

Broad
Elites

Broad
Elites
Urban/Suburban/Rural

85

18 to 24

11

0

25 to 34

19

21

35 to 44

20

28

Urban

27

21

45 to 54

19

26

Suburban

51

69

55 to 64

16

25

Rural

22

11

65+

15

0

Don’t Know

1

0

Q2. Please select your gender.
Q3. What is your age?
Qregion.
Q209. Do you consider the area in which you live to be…?

Demographics – Income and Education

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Income

86

Gen Pop

Broad
Elites

Less than $35,000

36

0

$35,000 - $49,999

15

$50,000 - $74,999

Education
Gen Pop

Broad
Elites

Grade school or less

0

0

0

Some high school

2

0

19

0

High school graduate/GED

22

0

$75,000 - $99,999

12

20

$100,000 – $124,999

8

29

Some college or trade
school

32

0

$125,000 – $149,999

5

22

College graduate

32

60

$150,000 or more

5

29

Post-graduate work

12

40

QIncome. Which of the following income categories best describes your total 2014 household income before taxes?
QEDU. What is the highest level of school you have completed or the highest degree you have received?

Demographics – Marital Status and Parental Status

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Marital Status

87

Gen Pop

Broad
Elites

Never married (Single)

29

13

Married

49

75

Separated

1

1

Divorced

10

4

Widowed

4

2

Domestic
partnership/Cohabitating

76

5

Prefer not to answer

0

0

Q216. What is your marital status?
QParent1. Do you have children?
QParent 2. In which of the following age ranges do you have children living in your home? If you have children in more than one age
range, please select all that apply.

Parental Status
Gen Pop

Broad
Elites

Yes

58

73

No

42

27

Gen Pop

Broad
Elites

0-3

15

15

4-7

18

23

8-10

19

24

11-13

17

23

14-16

15

28

17-18

9

15

19 or older

19

18

I have no children living at
home with me

30

13

Children Living at Home
(Ages)

Demographics – Ethnicity, Individual and Familial Immigration Status

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Ethnicity

88

Gen Pop

Broad
Elites

White or Caucasian

68

71

Black, Caribbean, or
African

12

8

Latin/Latin American/
Latino/ Hispanic

13

12

Citizenship
Gen Pop

Broad
Elites

Born in the United States

93

90

Born in a country other than
the United States

7

10

Gen Pop

Broad
Elites

One or both of my parents
immigrated to the United
States

16

23

One or both of my
grandparents immigrated to
the United States

20

22

All of my parents and
grandparents were born in
the United States

63

54

Parent/Grandparents
Citizenship

Asian (including South
Asian, Indian, Pakistani and
East Asian, Chinese,
Korean, Japanese, Pacific
Islander etc.)

4

Arab, Middle Eastern

1

1

Other

1

1

Q217. Which of the following best describes your ethnic or racial background or heritage?
Q218. Do you consider yourself to be of Hispanic or Latino descent?
Q219. Were you born in the United States or somewhere else?
Q220. Did either one of your parents or grandparents immigrate to the United States?

7

Demographics – Political Affiliation/Leaning and Voting Behaviors

The
The Atlantic/Aspen
Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Institute

The American Dream

June 2015

Political Affiliation

Political Leaning
Gen Pop

Broad
Elites

Liberal

23

25

31

Moderate

47

50

35

34

Conservative

29

25

Other

1

2

Don’t know

8

3

Gen Pop

Broad
Elites

Yes

75

94

No

21

5

I was not eligible to vote

4

2

Gen Pop

Broad
Elites

Democrat

31

30

Republican

25

Independent

Voter

89

Q210. Do you consider yourself a…
Q211. Regardless of political party, do you consider yourself…?
Q212. Did you vote in the last presidential election?