Is the Great American Dream Still Alive?

Is the Great American Dream Still Alive?


A Wall Street Journal poll has some interesting questions and answers about what people think about the economy and whether hard work is rewarded.

Please consider the WSJ/NORC Poll October 2023 conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago.

Only 36% still believe in the American Dream.

Strength of the US Economy

Only 2 percent of respondents believe the economy is excellent but 18 percent rate it poor.

The combined net is 35 percent think the economy is good to excellent but 65 percent think the economy is not-so-good to poor.

Is the Economy Better, the Same, or Worse than 50 Years Ago?

Only 30 percent think life in America is better than 50 years ago.

My first thought was the question is silly. Many respondents have no idea what life was like 50 years ago. For some, even 15 or 20 years ago would be a struggle.

Nonetheless, perhaps the answer is telling. Apparently, things are so bad now that people presume they were better 50 years ago.

Economic and Political Systems

This above question surprised me the most in light of the other answers.

People have given up on the American Dream and think like was better 50 years ago.

Yet, only 50 percent think things are stacked against them. I wonder if age has something to do with the above question.

Demographics in WSJ Poll

  • 18-34: 15%
  • 35-49: 26%
  • 50-64: 23%
  • 65+: 36%

The WSJ pool had a massive 36% percentage of respondents in the 65+ age group.

In 2022, about 17.3 percent of the American population was 65 years old or over, according to Statistica.

That’s a pretty bad skew.

Let’s look at this another way. Who is more likely to think the system is stacked against them, someone older or someone younger?

Home Ownership Rates

74.6 Percent of those 55-64 years own their home. 79.5 percent of those 65 and older do.

But only 39.3 percent of those age 35 and under do with home prices soaring out of sight and mortgage rates well above 7 percent.

Biased Questions and Skewed Demographics

The Wall Street Journal article Voters See American Dream Slipping Out of Reach, WSJ/NORC Poll Shows has anecdotes that pertain to younger workers.

However, the Journal failed to detect biased questions or note explain huge demographic sampling issues.

Note the question: Is the system “stacked against people like me?”

Perhaps a better question would have been “Is the system stacked?” A follow-up would ask “against whom?

In practice, the younger you are, and the fewer assets you have, the more the system is stacked against you. It is very difficult to buy a house now, and a house is a big part of the American Dream.

In contrast, the key question was nicely phrased: “Do you think the American Dream–that if you work hard you’ll get ahead–still holds true, never held true, or once held true but does not anymore?

Age sampling and the poor wording of questions likely explains the discrepancy between the answers to the “American Dream” question and the “stacked” question.

Those older and wiser can see the system is unfairly stacked, just not against them personally.

This leads back to the same place and other polls.

Why Are Americans in Such a Rotten Mood?

Biden wonders why people are in such a bad mood. For discussion, please see Why Are Americans in Such a Rotten Mood? Biden Blames the Media

In one sentence: People are in a rotten mood because they are struggling with rent and putting food on the table. Those not struggling can easily see others who are.

Meanwhile, despite huge problems at home, Biden wants hundreds of billions more for Israel, Ukraine, and Inane Money-Losing Offshore Wind Projects that now need a bailout.

Nonstop Inflation

Also see Nonstop Inflation: Biden Wants You to Pay More and Get Less

Yes dear reader, Biden blames the media when it’s his policies that are killing the American Dream.


(TLB) published this article from MishTalk.Com with our apprecition for this financial perspective

About Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Mish is a highly acclaimed macro-economic writer who typically posts several articles a day on his MishTalk website.

Topics include interest rates, central bank policy, gold and precious metals, jobs, and economic reports, typically from an Austrian Economic perspective.  Twitter Handle: @MishGEA


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