Where is the American dream now?

A lot of Americans tell pollsters they fear the American dream is dead. And depending on how you define “American dream,” the data supports that concern — up to a point. Doubts about upward mobility and a sunnier tomorrow are nothing new: Polls show Americans also lost faith in the American dream during the early 1990s and mid-2010s, for example. But this bout of pessimism may be something new. Just what is the American dream, and what kind of state is it in today?

What is the American dream?

David Leonhardt of The New York Times traces the phrase back to historian James Truslow Adams, who wrote in his 1931 book “The Epic of America” that the American dream is “of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement,” and “regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”

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