January 19, 2024

The American Dream – the idea that anyone, regardless of where they were born or what class they were born into, can achieve success in the U.S. through hard work and determination – is under scrutiny. Compared to post-World War II where most people could create a comfortable lifestyle, the viability of homeownership and stable employment doesn’t seem attainable to younger Americans and immigrants, according to some economists and policymakers. Those who see a challenge say there’s a growing wealth gap between the richest and poorest people and that increasing healthcare, education, and housing costs create hardships for many. They also argue that the shift towards a more gig-based economy and the impact of automation and globalization on traditional jobs create uncertainty. Those who remain optimistic about a meritocratic path to success, say that compared to other countries, the U.S. still offers more opportunities for personal and financial growth and that new industries and technologies continually emerge, creating new pathways for advancement. Younger Americans also see different ways of achieving the American Dream than their parents, opening possibilities of a less rigid definition of the term in the future. 

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