Is The American Dream Still Alive, Dead Or Just Really Tired?

Is The American Dream Still Alive, Dead Or Just Really Tired?

“Living The American Dream” – we’ve all heard the phrase before.  The idea promotes the American worker with the ability to literally achieve your dreams.  As the American economy evolves, new challenges and obstacles present themselves making the road ahead a difficult journey. 

As these obstacles and challenges are presented to American families from all walks of life and cultures from all over the world, it’s hard not to ask yourself “Is the American Dream still alive?”

This is a question that has been on my mind for a while and I have decided to write freely and just let it flow. Forget about keyword research for this post or SEO. We are also moving from just providing information but also giving our opinion. In some matter, you can’t sit on the fence. 

Well, to answer this question, we turned to real people on Twitter and Facebook. 

First, we polled our Twitter audience to see what they think.  Our sample size was only 13 but I think it is actually representative of what I feel the general population thinks based on my discussion with friends and family. The result is below for your viewing pleasure. 


Is the american dream still alive?

So, about 76% of our sample size think the American dream is either dying, tired or still alive.  The other 23% have given up and doesn’t even believe the dream can be resuscitated. 

Here are some notable facts from both sides of the line that will help you answer this question for yourself… Try out our new feature below – Table of content. 


What is “The American Dream?”

To determine whether the American Dream is still alive, I think it merits defining the term “American Dream.”  After surveying approximately 2,411 Americans from all walks of life, the New York Times reported the following conclusions of what these Americans define as “The American Dream:” 

  • 85% said it means “to have freedom of choice in how to live”
  • 83% said that “a good family life” is essential to the American Dream
  • Only 16% said that the American Dream meant it was essential to “become wealthy”
  • 45% said that it meant “to have a better quality of life than your parents”
  • 49% replied that “having a successful career” was a key component of the American Dream

So, what is the American Dream?  As you can see, the definition of the American dream is different for everyone. However, with these insightful findings from the New York Times, we can conclude that the American Dream means having the ability to live a life of freedom and enjoy the pursuit of happiness.  It means having the freedom and ability to build your family, business, wealth, success as you define it, and the overall life that you desire. 

To give a perspective of both sides of the potential answers to this question, here are some arguments for and against the well-being of the American Dream.


Why the American Dream is very much alive and well

With economic progression, technology innovation, and the changes happening politically, religiously, etc.  it could be difficult for some to agree that the American Dream is thriving. 

While many may see where those with that opinion may come from, others would argue that the American Dream has always been alive, and always will be, but times have changed making the pursuit of said American Dream “different” than what it once was.  Here’s why the American Dream is alive and well:


Freedom to choose

Regardless of how hard it is to achieve the life you want, we are all free to choose what actions we take to get there.  If your pursuit of happiness and the American Dream means having a family and creating a life of opportunity for your children, then it is your choice on whether you pursue a spouse, it’s your choice to have children, and it’s your choice on whether you educate yourself and provide a healthy lifestyle for your family.  The freedom to choose is alive and well, and thus, so is the American Dream.

Lets detour a bit and discuss some notable success stories to get you inspired a little. It will also let you understand that people are successful in the past as well as present times.


The Entrepreneurial Mindset – Success Stories

Maybe you define the American Dream as being able to create your own economic success through small business, entrepreneurship, and creativity.  If that is you, here are some success stories ranging from the industrial revolution up until current times.


John D. Rockefeller

John D Rockefeller was perhaps the wealthiest person in America.  If you were to take his wealth from his generation and value it in today’s dollars, he’d be worth over 1 trillion dollars!  Rockefeller built his first oil refinery and later incorporated as the Standard Oil Company. Many don’t know that John D Rockefeller was born under modest circumstances, eliminating the question of whether he was born into wealth or created it himself. 


Steve Jobs

Chances are that at least 40-50% of you reading this are loyal customers to an Apple product.  Whether it be the iPhone, iPod, iPad or MacBook computers, the success of Steve Jobs and Apple Inc. is no question a sign that the American Dream is thriving.  What started out a small idea in his garage with some friends, turned into one of the wealthiest companies in the world today.


Jeff Bezos

Many of you may not know that Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, was thought to be somewhat crazy for pursuing his idea to open up an online bookstore.  What started out as a “crazy” idea and nothing more than an online bookstore has grown to be perhaps the largest online retail company in history.  Jeff Bezos left his high paying job on Wall Street in pursuit of the American Dream to build an online business.  


Mark Zuckerberg

Considered one of the youngest billionaires in the world, Mark Zuckerberg was a college dropout in pursuit of turning a college social platform into the largest social media platform today, Facebook.  The fact that he had acquired the knowledge, was inspired by an idea, and sought after that idea after dropping out of college is more than proof that the American Dream as defined by obtaining wealth and building a business, is healthier than it has ever been before.

And many to come… And you can be the next one. 

These are just a few entrepreneurs, among many others who are living proof of the American Dream.  If your pursuit of happiness and the American dream are defined by the ability to build a thriving business and affect millions of people in a positive way, then the good news gets even better, as time goes on.


Reasons why the American Dream may be a thing of the past

The fact is, most Americans are neck deep with debt, and the average income is low enough to near poverty levels.  In fact, some would argue that their financial well-being is past the point of no return, crossing off the ability to obtain what is defined as the American Dream. Here are a few valid points to consider in deciding if the American Dream still lives:


Check out how we paid off our own debt and the get out of debt series we use to inspire everyone in debt, that it is possible to get rid of their debt.


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No more “stay at home parents”

Historically, a family has been able to live off of one full-time income while the other spouse stays home and takes care of the kids.  The fact is that the term “stay at home parents” is nearly non-existent today due to the high financial responsibilities of providing for an average sized family. 

More families rely on both spouses’ incomes while sending the kids to day-care until they are old enough to be in school. In fact, there is data to back this up.

A data in 2015 by American progress demonstrated how the percentage of women breadwinners has jumped to 42%. And the ones that are not breadwinners are in many cases hustling to bring money to the family pot, on top of the tough job of raising kids. 

If this trend keeps heading in this direction, where will the American Dream be 10 – 20 years from now?


Not everyone has access to the available opportunities

In a popular article published by Forbes Magazine, they argue that


“the new American Dream is no longer about pursuing opportunity –  but learning how to earn the right to both see and seize it.” 


They go on to say that real opportunities today are only available to those who have knowledge and wisdom of such opportunities.  This often only means those with money or access to the right people even get a chance at such opportunities.


Only the wealthy can benefit

Let’s face it, money is a major force behind many major decisions being made every day.  The family who has enough money to fund the lifestyle of the next three generations can certainly afford to pay for the higher quality of living, providing more opportunities for their kids, and gaining access to top talent and mentors for education. 

How is the average Joe family making just enough to live on getting by while also providing the same caliber of opportunity to their children? Wealth not only drives opportunity but also drives many of the decisions behind those opportunities.  Talent alone is simply not enough in many cases.


“Living The American Dream” – we’ve all heard the phrase before.  The idea promotes the American worker with the ability to literally achieve your dreams.  As the American economy evolves, new challenges and obstacles present themselves making the road ahead a difficult journey. W discuss the case for and against and gave our opinion

Conclusion: The American Dream Still Lives On…

When weighing the validity of the arguments on both sides, it’s hard to say that the American Dream, as defined by each American individually, isn’t only alive, but thriving at an accelerated pace.

While I might not be wealthy like Bezos, I do believe I have achieved the American dream or Canadian/American dream if you want to be technical about it.  When I arrived in Canada, I had to decide whether to succumb to the system and keep complaining about how the government is bad and how the system is rigged for a particular race or strap down and focus on my dreams.  

The perceived reasons as to why the American Dream seems to be dead, are only perceptions of when comparing those just starting out on their quest, and those who have been working towards such goal for generations. 

Some are farther along than others, but that does not make them better or provide them more opportunity than you and I both have at our fingertips today.  With access to education, healthcare, the ability to create a family should you choose, and live the lifestyle you wish is not impeded by anyone other than our own fears and misperceptions of reality.

While each of our individual circumstances varies in terms of lifestyle, culture, background, religion, etc.,  the opportunity to create the life you want has not changed. 

The circumstances, challenges, and obstacles one faces today are certainly different and, in many ways, unique as compared to previous generations.  However, by no means do these eliminate the same opportunity we all have to create the life we want.

While there are valid points on each side of the line, one thing is still certain: There are as many thriving families and entrepreneurs who came from modest livings today than there has ever been.  It can even be said that more opportunity is available today than there has ever been in the history of the nation, for one to live the American Dream.  Ironically, that dream is defined by your creative mind and your ambition to seek after it.

So, go out there and achieve your dream. 


A motivational article inspired by Kill Bill Movie – 6 lessons i learn from the movie about success in entrepreneurship and personal finance

There you go. Some piece of my mind on the American dream.  I am aware this might strike a chord with some people and cause an uproar. I am willing to continue the discussion in the comment section.  Please share whether you are for or against. 

Check out our best performing article getting over 1,000 views every single day. Dave Ramsey is outdated, try our 12 toddler steps to financial freedom instead.  It is that juicy. 

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This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. This post has a lot of great points for both sides, but I tend to err on the side of the American dream being dead as I have seen my parents quality of life diminish steadily over the years in terms of finances, happiness, etc and as a young person struggling immensely.

  2. I don’t know that the American dream is dead, but it’s definitely taken a beating. There are a lot of people out there who can afford to fulfill it, but there are also a lot of obstacles — some of which you mentioned, like low wages — that keep a large segment of the population from achieving that dream. It used to be that you could afford a house and car on minimum wage, but that’s just not true any more. And not everyone has access to higher education for reasons of poorly funded schools, sociology and more. So… The American dream isn’t doing well, but it does still exist. Let’s just see if more of us Americans can get that dream without going severely into debt. Because I feel like the definition has expanded to include “lots of toys (nice cards, jet skis, whatever), especially if your neighbor has them too.”)

  3. I have always wondered what the “American Dream” even is. I have asked several times and been told something different each time.

    It ranged from “to make more than you parents.” Since mine were broke it wasn’t a high standard. or “To own a home.” Really? To have a house and mortgage? That’s the dream?

    I like the upward mobility aspect. The dream is alive and well if that is it. I came from poverty and ignorance to a high level of income, wealth, and professional success. I was the first to go to college or have an above average income. America is a land of opportunity for those who seek to set goals, work at them, and ask for help from others.

  4. Excellent topic and post DBEF. Like the new style and pretty nifty with the table of contents.

    I think there will always be opportunities for someone to better his or herself and thus the American dream is still viable. Granted some people have a head start or bit of an unfair advantage with connections etc but I feel the truly special people will rise no matter what situation they begin with.

    If you have talent and can bring a product or idea to fruition you can capitalize on it and get your share of the American pie.

  5. I was very intrigued by your title. I’m sorry I missed your twitter vote. I would have said “In between.” My personal definition of the American Dream is being able to do better than our parents did. My husband and I seem to be on track with that, but we’re also well aware of the sobering statistics like you mentioned in this post. Our hope for our son is that he does “better than us” – whatever that means for him. Nice idea and very nicely carried out. Well done!

  6. Excellent post! I think it depends on what the American Dream means to you personally. But yes, I do think its live and well

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