As the economy continues to get worse under Joe Biden, a new poll shows that a large plurality of Americans think the concept of the “American Dream” is dead.
As Axios reports, the idea that working hard to achieve a dream will eventually result in that dream coming true is now considered untrue by most respondents in the Wall Street Journal poll. When asking the question of whether or not “the American Dream — that if you work hard you’ll get ahead — still holds true,” 36% say it is still true, while 45% say it was once true, but not anymore. Another 18% say it was never true to begin with.
In previous polls taken by PRRI in 2012 and 2016, 53% and 48%, respectively, said that the American Dream was still a reality. Along demographic lines, the WSJ poll shows that women are more skeptical of the American Dream today than men, and younger voters are overwhelmingly more pessimistic than older voters.
One of the major reasons suggested for the decline in belief in the American Dream is the ongoing wealth gap in the country. In 2022, an analysis by the Brookings Institute claimed that America is now less of a meritocracy – where hard work is the primary determining factor in who gets ahead – than other first-world countries.
“Wealth inequality is high,” the Brookings report stated. “And wealth status is sticky.”
Another part of the trend that reflects the broader concerns over the American Dream is the fear of a decline in generational wealth and success. Throughout most of American history, every generation has been better off in terms of finances, stability, and upward mobility than the prior generation.
But today, more Americans are fearful than ever before that the next generations – namely, Millennials and Generation Z, also known as “Zoomers” – will be worse off than preceding generations. An NBC poll showed a mere 19% of respondents saying that they believed the next generation would be better off than them.