American dream is slipping away, voters say in new poll

A new Wall Street Journal/NORC survey released Friday found that only 36% of voters believe the American dream is still a reality. 

This is a drastic downfall from the 53% who believed in the American Dream in a 2012 edition of the survey and 48% in 2016.

Also in the 2023 poll, half of voters said that life in the U.S. is worse than it was 50 years ago — approximately 30% of respondents said life is better.

In response to the assertion that the "economic and political systems in the country are stacked against people like me," 50% of voters agreed. Approximately 39% of respondents disagreed.

The WSJ/NORC survey polled 1,163 registered voters.

The poll was conducted between October 19 and October 24 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The Friday poll is far from the only survey that has found precipitously declining faith in the American Dream and upward mobility in the U.S.

The latest State of the American Family survey released by MassMutual this month found that more than two in five Americans, or 42%, believe the American dream is out of reach. That is a nine-point increase relative to 2018 and similar to the survey’s findings in 2013, when the U.S. economy was in the midst of a sluggish recovery from the financial crisis and Great Recession.

Respondents to the MassMutual survey identified a family’s financial security as the top factor defining the American dream – a shift from a decade ago when home ownership and not living paycheck to paycheck were the top priority. 

U.S. consumer security has been shaken by the ongoing inflation crisis under President Biden's administration that began in January 2021. When compared to the beginning of the crisis, prices remain up a stunning 17.62%.

Inflation has created severe financial pressures for most U.S. households, which are forced to pay more for everyday necessities like food and rent.

The burden is disproportionately borne by low-income Americans, whose already-stretched paychecks are heavily impacted by price fluctuations.

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