Is the new American dream way out of reach?
The definition of the term is changing as people begin to want more than just a home and a decent salary.
A new study shows that a majority of Americans are living the American Dream -- even if they largely don't realize it.
The poll, conducted by marketing firm DDB as part of its 2014 Life Style Study, found that only 40 percent of American adults over the age of 18 believe they are "living the American Dream."
The same 7,015-person study also found that sizable majorities reported owning a home, receiving a "good education," finding a "decent job" and giving their children better lives than they themselves had -- all traditional tenets of the American Dream.
Although these findings may not seem intuitive, the answer behind this discrepancy could lie in an important trend in American financial security.
"Even though people report that they are not living the dream, they actually are when you look at the traditional benchmarks," said Denise Delahorne of DDB Chicago, who worked closely with the survey. She theorized that many people do not see themselves as having attained the traditional American Dream because of a shifting definition of the term.
"If you're new to this country, then life seems pretty good here," Delahorne said. "But for many people who have lived here a long time, they've started to think of the American Dream less as the traditional elements and more relative to wealth."
In the survey, only 25 percent of adults reported that they have been able to "make a lot of money" in their life.
But Erin Currier, the director of economic mobility at The Pew Charitable Trusts, told CNBC she does not think the disparity between the respondents' life histories and their own assessment of American Dream fulfillment lies in an evolving definition. Still, she agreed with Delahorne: The explanation lies in wealth.
American families "have enough that they are able to consume those indicators of the American Dream, but they aren't financially secure," Currier said, drawing the distinction to an increase in citizens' incomes but not their wealth. "My instinct is that people feel that on a day-to-day basis."
Because Americans are "treading water," she said, they are too insecure to be able to enjoy their achievements. Still, Pew research from 2009 confirms that the elements listed on the DDB survey roughly align with what citizens see as the American Dream.
The margin of error for DDB's poll is +/- 1.2 percent.
US Adults 18+
|I am living the American Dream||40%||40%||35%||40%||49%|
|In my life I have been able to:|
|Own a home||66%||70%||49%||55%||70%|
|Get a good education||78%||78%||81%||74%||85%|
|Find a decent Job||74%||75%||75%||72%||78%|
|Have decent health and medical care||78%||79%||77%||72%||83%|
|Give my children a better life than I have||81%||79%||87%||85%||90%|
|Feel relatively safe||89%||90%||88%||84%||88%|
|Be treated fairly||81%||83%||78%||77%||82%|
|Have enough food to eat||93%||94%||92%||91%||93%|
|Speak my mind freely||87%||89%||87%||82%||87%|
|Buy the car of my dreams||35%||34%||34%||36%||44%|
|Make a lot of money||25%||23%||29%||26%||31%|
More from CNBC
new american dream: come to america and get on welfare.
I think the American dream is alive and well. It was not bundle of joy starting out in 1980. I made 7.00 an hour, had to pay rent , interest was 15% at the bank utilities were percentage wise just as high.
We thought the country was destroyed from Jimmy Carter. The big thing is we were taught to keep debt to a minimum if at all. My wife and I taught all 5 of our kids the same. Today, they are starting their lives with minimum debt, all 5 well employed, no one lives in our basement. No one is covered in tattoos or piercings.
Go back to the basics, teach 0 debt and lead by example. deficet spending is what got us in this mess. Look for root causes///DEBT!!
"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the US Government cannot pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government's reckless fiscal policies. Increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that, 'the buck stops here.' Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better."
~ Senator Barack H. Obama, March 2006
Feds blow $100 billion a year on incorrect payments
The Department of Health and Human Services and the IRS are 2 of the biggest offenders, but the food stamp program is a success story.
Between 2002 and 2012, federal agencies spent more than half a trillion dollars ($688 billion) on payments that should never have been made.
Every year, according to their own record-keeping, the agencies that administer major federal programs are now paying out more than $100 billion improperly, and even though they're aware of the problem, they recover only a tiny fraction for taxpayers. This adds up to huge losses for the U.S. Treasury.
The American dream isn't dead, don't be so pessimistic and fall into Obama's realm.
The USA is still the greatest country on earth, but our current President and his horrible administration are doing their best to ruin it. We still have the spirit to fight, we are the most giving country in the world, and we are a nation of really decent people....even though the knucklehead in the White House say's we should be ashamed. Just get rid of him, Pelosi and Reid, and America will be a proud, happy, and productive country once again.
Headline and core inflation erode the value of your money, ACA taxes (cost me $80/week), lapse of the Bush era tax cuts, skyrocketing fuel costs, stagnant wages, and no upward mobility in the job market. Meanwhile Obama and his wall street cronies are making a fortune on an artificial bull market created by the FED.
Welcome to Soviet style affluence. Lifestyle is more affected by your government connections than by your hard work.
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