According to a poll by The Atlantic, 75 percent of Americans say the American Dream is suffering, obstacles to realizing the Dream are “more severe today than ever” (69 percent), and overall the nation is on the wrong track (64 percent). Yet this pessimism about the nation did not carry over to how Americans feel about their own lives. Half of respondents say they are living the American Dream now (50 percent) and 22 percent expect to achieve it in their lifetimes. Millennials (age 30 and younger) are most exuberant with 77 percent overall saying they’re living the dream now or believe they can achieve it.
Millennial’s definition of the American Dream appears to differ from older generations. Millennials are the only age group to say the most important element of their dream job is “pays a lot of money.” They also rank luxury items—like “traveling to other countries,” “driving a nice car” and “belonging to exclusive clubs or organizations”—higher than any other age cohort. This age group also rank “pursuing happiness” (after “being debt-free”) as the top elements of their personal Dreams, almost twice the rate of 51-64 year olds and more than twice the rate of those age 65+.
Despite their talk about doing good in the world, only 14 percent of Millennials olds said “helping others” was most important to their personal Dream. Comparatively, 22 percent of those aged 65+ and 19 percent of 51-64 year said the same.