Liberty Enlightening the World (the Statue of Liberty) in New York Harbor was the first view of the United States for many immigrants during the mid-19th to the early 20th century. In this role, it signified new opportunities for becoming American, and evolved into a symbol of the American Dream.

The American Dream is the national ethos of the United States, that every person has the freedom and opportunity to succeed and attain a better life.[1] The phrase was popularized by James Truslow Adams during the Great Depression in 1931,[2] and has had different meanings over time. Originally, the emphasis was on democracy, liberty and equality, but more recently has been on achieving material wealth and upward mobility.[3]

Adams defined it as "that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. [...] It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position".[4]

The tenets of the American Dream originate from the Declaration of Independence, which states that "all men are created equal", and have an inalienable right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness".[5] The Preamble to the Constitution states similarly that the Constitution's purpose is to, in part, "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity".[a] It is said to be a set of ideals including representative democracy, rights, liberty, and equality, in which freedom is interpreted as the opportunity for individual prosperity and success, as well as the chance for upward social mobility for each according to ability and achievement through hard work in a capitalist society with many challenges but few formal barriers.[citation needed]

Evidence indicates that in recent decades social mobility in the United States has declined, and income inequality has risen.[6][7] Social mobility is lower in the US than in many European countries, especially the Nordic countries.[8][9] Despite this, many Americans are likely to believe they have a better chance of social mobility than Europeans do.[10] The US ranked 27th in the 2020 Global Social Mobility Index.[11] A 2020 poll found 54% of American adults thought the American Dream was attainable for them, while 28% thought it was not. Black and Asian Americans, and younger generations were less likely to believe this than whites, Hispanics, Native Americans and older generations.[12] Women are more skeptical of achieving the American Dream than men are.[13]

Belief in the American Dream is often inversely associated with rates of national disillusionment.[6] Some critics have said that the dominant culture in America focuses on materialism and consumerism, or puts blame on the individual for failing to achieve success.[14] Others have said that the labor movement is significant for delivering on the American Dream and building the middle class,[15][16] yet in 2024 only 10% of American workers were members of a labor union, down from 20% in 1983.[17] The American Dream has also been said to be tied to American exceptionalism,[18] and does not acknowledge the hardships many Americans have faced in regards to American slavery, Native American genocide, Jim Crow laws and their legacies, as well as other examples of discriminatory violence.[19]


This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (November 2022)

The meaning of the American Dream has changed over the course of history, and includes both personal components such as home ownership and upward mobility as well as a global vision for cultural hegemony and diplomacy.

18th century

Historically, the Dream originated in colonial mystique regarding frontier life. As John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore, the colonial Governor of Virginia, noted in 1774, the Americans "for ever imagine the Lands further off are still better than those upon which they are already settled". He added that, "if they attained Paradise, they would move on if they heard of a better place farther west".[20] The idea of the American Dream is ever evolving and changing. When the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, the founding fathers believed that this would ratify the role of government and society in the United States. Jim Cullen notability claims:

Ever since, the Declaration of Independence has functioned as the banner of the American Dream, one repeatedly waved by figures that included women’s rights activists, populists, homosexuals, and anyone who has ever believed that happiness can not only be pursued, but attained. The U.S. Constitution, which marked the other bookend of the nation’s creation, lacks the mythic resonances of the Declaration, though it takes little reflection to see that it is the backdrop, if not the foundation, for all American Dreams. Whatever their disagreements about its scope or character, most Americans would agree that their national government is legitimate insofar as it permits a level playing field of dreams. Many of us have doubts that the government does serve this function; few have doubts that it should.[21]

19th century

Many well-educated Germans who fled the failed 1848 revolution found the United States more politically free than their homeland, which they believed to be a hierarchical and aristocratic society that determined the ceiling for their aspirations. One of them said:

The German emigrant comes into a country free from the despotism, privileged orders and monopolies, intolerable taxes, and constraints in matters of belief and conscience. Everyone can travel and settle wherever he pleases. No passport is demanded, no police mingles in his affairs or hinders his movements ... Fidelity and merit are the only sources of honor here. The rich stand on the same footing as the poor; the scholar is not a mug above the most humble mechanics; no German ought to be ashamed to pursue any occupation ... [In America] wealth and possession of real estate confer not the least political right on its owner above what the poorest citizen has. Nor are there nobility, privileged orders, or standing armies to weaken the physical and moral power of the people, nor are there swarms of public functionaries to devour in idleness credit for. Above all, there are no princes and corrupt courts representing the so-called divine 'right of birth'. In such a country the talents, energy and perseverance of a person ... have far greater opportunity to display than in monarchies.[22]

The discovery of gold in California in 1849 brought in a hundred thousand men looking for their fortune overnight—and a few did find it. Thus was born the California Dream of instant success. Historian H. W. Brands noted that in the years after the Gold Rush, the California Dream spread across the nation:

The old American Dream ... was the dream of the Puritans, of Benjamin Franklin's "Poor Richard"... of men and women content to accumulate their modest fortunes a little at a time, year by year by year. The new dream was the dream of instant wealth, won in a twinkling by audacity and good luck. [This] golden dream ... became a prominent part of the American psyche only after Sutter's Mill.[23]

During the 18th century provided Americans with new sources of wealth and looking for new ways of travel. When looking at immigration in history, it is important to consider the different experiences of gender as much as race. There are oftentimes tensions between economic and political agendas. By studying the global tensions and events outside of the United States, helps to form a broader viewpoint and perspective of the past. After 1776, the United States became a part of the global connections improving marketing opportunities. This paragraph highlights the complex relationships between global integration within American history:

These complicated transnational networks themselves are not the only story. Along with global integration went attempts to assert national distinctiveness amid growing global competition. Americans conceived of and responded to these pressures by striving to create national economic independence because they wanted to maintain political and social independence. Thus there was tension between the economic imperatives of global integration, and national political debates and economic agendas - such as the enhancement of national security through a strong industrial and financial base.[24]

Historian Frederick Jackson Turner in 1893 advanced the frontier thesis, under which American democracy and the American Dream were formed by the American frontier. He stressed the process—the moving frontier line—and the impact it had on pioneers going through the process. He also stressed results; especially that American democracy was the primary result, along with egalitarianism, a lack of interest in high culture, and violence. "American democracy was born of no theorist's dream; it was not carried in the Susan Constant to Virginia, nor in the Mayflower to Plymouth. It came out of the American forest, and it gained new strength each time it touched a new frontier," said Turner.[25]

In Turner's thesis, the American frontier established liberty by releasing Americans from European mindsets and eroding old, dysfunctional customs. The frontier had no need for standing armies, established churches, aristocrats or nobles, nor for landed gentry who controlled most of the land and charged heavy rents. Frontier land was free for the taking. Turner first announced his thesis in a paper entitled "The Significance of the Frontier in American History", delivered to the American Historical Association in 1893 in Chicago. He won wide acclaim among historians and intellectuals. Turner elaborated on the theme in his advanced history lectures and in a series of essays published over the next 25 years, published along with his initial paper as The Frontier in American History.[26] Turner's emphasis on the importance of the frontier in shaping American character influenced the interpretation found in thousands of scholarly histories. By the time Turner died in 1932, 60% of the leading history departments in the U.S. were teaching courses in frontier history along Turnerian lines.[27]

Americanization of California (1932) by Dean Cornwell

20th century

Freelance writer James Truslow Adams popularized the phrase "American Dream" in his 1931 book Epic of America:[28]

But there has been also the American dream, that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to his ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position... The American dream, that has lured tens of millions of all nations to our shores in the past century has not been a dream of merely material plenty, though that has doubtlessly counted heavily. It has been much more than that. It has been a dream of being able to grow to fullest development as man and woman, unhampered by the barriers which had slowly been erected in the older civilizations, unrepressed by social orders which had developed for the benefit of classes rather than for the simple human being of any and every class.

Adams contended that extreme wealth inequality was among the worst enemies of the American Dream, and said that:[28]

So long also as we are ourselves content with a mere extension of the material basis of existence, with the multiplying of our material possessions, it is absurd to think that the men who can utilize that public attitude for the gaining of infinite wealth and power for themselves will abandon both to become spiritual leaders of a democracy that despises spiritual things.

He also said that the American institution that best exemplified the American dream was the Library of Congress; he contrasted it with European libraries of the time, which restricted access to many of their works, and argued that the Library, as an institution funded by and meant to uphold democracy, was an example of democratic government's ability to uplift and equalize the people that it ruled over and was ruled by in order to "save itself" from a takeover by oligarchic forces. The Library also offered an opportunity for the whole nation to come together in thoughtful pursuit of a common good, which Adams claimed needed to be "carried out in all departments of our national life" in order to make the American Dream a reality.[28]

Martin Luther King Jr., in his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" (1963), rooted the civil rights movement in the African-American quest for the American Dream:[29]

We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands ... when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judeo-Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the Founding Fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.


The concept of the American Dream has been used in popular discourse, and scholars have traced its use in American literature ranging from the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin,[30] to Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), Willa Cather's My Ántonia,[31] F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (1925), Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy (1925) and Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon (1977).[32] Other writers who used the American Dream theme include Hunter S. Thompson, Edward Albee,[33] John Steinbeck,[34] Langston Hughes,[35] and Giannina Braschi.[36]

In 2006, Dr. Guiyou Huang from St. Thomas University in Florida wrote a paper regarding the American Dream as a recurring theme in the fiction of Asian Americans.[37][38]

American ideals

Many American authors added American ideals to their work as a theme or other reoccurring idea, to get their point across.[39] There are many ideals that appear in American literature such as that all people are equal, the United States is the land of opportunity, independence is valued, the American Dream is attainable, and everyone can succeed with hard work and determination. John Winthrop also wrote about this term called American exceptionalism. This ideology refers to the idea that Americans are, as a nation, elect.[40]

Literary commentary

European governments, worried that their best young people would leave for America, distributed posters like this to frighten them (this 1869 Swedish anti-emigration poster contrasts Per Svensson's dream of the American idyll (left) and the reality of his life in the wilderness (right), where he is menaced by a mountain lion, a big snake and wild Indians who are scalping and disembowelling someone).[41]

The American Dream has been credited with helping to build a cohesive American experience, but has also been blamed for inflated expectations.[42] Some commentators have noted that despite deep-seated belief in the egalitarian American Dream, the modern American wealth structure still perpetuates racial and class inequalities between generations.[43] One sociologist notes that advantage and disadvantage are not always connected to individual successes or failures, but often to prior position in a social group.[43]

Since the 1920s, numerous authors, such as Sinclair Lewis in his 1922 novel Babbitt, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, in his 1925 classic, The Great Gatsby, satirized or ridiculed materialism in the chase for the American dream. For example, Jay Gatsby's death mirrors the American Dream's demise, reflecting the pessimism of modern-day Americans.[44] The American Dream is a main theme in the book by John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men. The two friends George and Lennie dream of their own piece of land with a ranch, so they can "live off the fatta the lan'" and just enjoy a better life. The book later shows that not everyone can achieve the American Dream, although it is possible to achieve for a few. A lot of people follow the American Dream to achieve a greater chance of becoming rich. Some posit that the ease of achieving the American Dream changes with technological advances, availability of infrastructure and information, government regulations, state of the economy, and with the evolving cultural values of American demographics.

In 1949, Arthur Miller wrote Death of a Salesman, in which the American Dream is a fruitless pursuit. Similarly, in 1971 Hunter S. Thompson depicted in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey Into the Heart of the American Dream a dark psychedelic reflection of the concept—successfully illustrated only in wasted pop-culture excess.[45]

The novel Requiem for a Dream by Hubert Selby Jr. is an exploration of the pursuit of American success as it turns delirious and lethal, told through the ensuing tailspin of its main characters. George Carlin famously wrote the joke "it's called the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it".[46][47] Carlin pointed to "the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions" as having a greater influence than an individual's choice.[46] Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and leftist activist Chris Hedges echos this sentiment in his 2012 book Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt:[48]

The vaunted American dream, the idea that life will get better, that progress is inevitable if we obey the rules and work hard, that material prosperity is assured, has been replaced by a hard and bitter truth. The American dream, we now know, is a lie. We will all be sacrificed. The virus of corporate abuse—the perverted belief that only corporate profit matters—has spread to outsource our jobs, cut the budgets of our schools, close our libraries, and plague our communities with foreclosures and unemployment.

The American Dream, and the sometimes dark response to it, has been a long-standing theme in American film.[49] Many counterculture films of the 1960s and 1970s ridiculed the traditional quest for the American Dream. For example, Easy Rider (1969), directed by Dennis Hopper, shows the characters making a pilgrimage in search of "the true America" in terms of the hippie movement, drug use, and communal lifestyles.[50]

Political leaders

Scholars have explored the American Dream theme in the careers of numerous political leaders, including Henry Kissinger,[51] Hillary Clinton,[52] Benjamin Franklin, and Abraham Lincoln.[53] The theme has been used for many local leaders as well, such as José Antonio Navarro, the Tejano leader (1795–1871), who served in the legislatures of Coahuila y Texas, the Republic of Texas, and the State of Texas.[54]

In 2006, then U.S. Senator Barack Obama wrote a memoir, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream. It was this interpretation of the American Dream for a young black man that helped establish his statewide and national reputations.[55][56] The exact meaning of the Dream became a minor partisan political issue in the 2008 and 2012 elections.[57]

Political conflicts, to some degree, have been ameliorated by the shared values of all parties in the expectation that the American Dream will resolve many difficulties and conflicts.[58]

Public opinion

The ethos today implies an opportunity for Americans to achieve prosperity through hard work. According to the Dream, this includes the opportunity for one's children to grow up and receive a good education and career without artificial barriers. It is the opportunity to make individual choices without the prior restrictions that limited people according to their class, caste, religion, race, or ethnicity. Immigrants to the United States sponsored ethnic newspapers in their own language; the editors typically promoted the American Dream.[59] Lawrence Samuel argues:

For many in both the working class and the middle class, upward mobility has served as the heart and soul of the American Dream, the prospect of "betterment" and to "improve one's lot" for oneself and one's children much of what this country is all about. "Work hard, save a little, send the kids to college so they can do better than you did, and retire happily to a warmer climate" has been the script we have all been handed.[60]

A key element of the American Dream is promoting opportunity for one's children, Johnson interviewing parents says, "This was one of the most salient features of the interview data: parents—regardless of background—relied heavily on the American Dream to understand the possibilities for children, especially their own children".[61] Rank et al. argue, "The hopes and optimism that Americans possess pertain not only to their own lives, but to their children's lives as well. A fundamental aspect of the American Dream has always been the expectation that the next generation should do better than the previous generation."[62]

"A lot of Americans think the U.S. has more social mobility than other western industrialized countries. This [study using medians instead of averages] makes it abundantly clear that we have less. Your circumstances at birth—specifically, what your parents do for a living—are an even bigger factor in how far you get in life than we had previously realized. Generations of Americans considered the United States to be a land of opportunity. This research raises some sobering questions about that image."

Michael Hout, Professor of Sociology at New York University, 2018[63]

Hanson and Zogby (2010) report on numerous public opinion polls that since the 1980s have explored the meaning of the concept for Americans, and their expectations for its future. In these polls, a majority of Americans consistently reported that for their family, the American Dream is more about spiritual happiness than material goods. Majorities state that working hard is the most important element for getting ahead. However, an increasing minority stated that hard work and determination does not guarantee success.[64]

In 2010, most Americans predicted that achieving the Dream with fair means would become increasingly difficult for future generations. They were increasingly pessimistic about the opportunity for the working class to get ahead; on the other hand, they were increasingly optimistic about the opportunities available to poor people and to new immigrants. Furthermore, most supported programs to make special efforts to help minorities get ahead.[64]

In a 2013 poll by YouGov, 41% of responders said it is impossible for most to achieve the American Dream, while 38% said it is still possible.[65] Most Americans perceive a college education as the ticket to the American Dream.[66] Some recent[when?] observers warn that soaring student loan debt crisis and shortages of good jobs may undermine this ticket.[67] The point was illustrated in The Fallen American Dream, a documentary film that details the concept of the American Dream from its historical origins to its current perception.[68] A 2020 poll found 54% of American adults thought the American Dream was attainable for them, 28% believed it was not, and 9% rejected the idea of the American Dream entirely. Younger generations were less likely to believe this than their older counterparts, and black and Asian Americans less likely than whites, Hispanics and Native Americans.[12]

Wealth inequality in the United States increased from 1989 to 2013.[69]

Research published in 2013 shows that the U.S. provides, alongside the United Kingdom and Spain, the least economic mobility of any of 13 rich democratic countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).[70][71] Prior research suggested that the United States shows roughly average levels of occupational upward mobility and shows lower rates of income mobility than comparable societies.[72][73]

Jo Blanden et al. report, "the idea of the U.S. as 'the land of opportunity' persists; and clearly seems misplaced."[74] According to these studies, "by international standards, the United States has an unusually low level of intergenerational mobility: our parents' income is highly predictive of our incomes as adults. Intergenerational mobility in the United States is lower than in France, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Norway and Denmark. Research in 2006 found that among high-income countries for which comparable estimates are available, only the United Kingdom had a lower rate of mobility than the United States."[75] Economist Isabel Sawhill concluded that "this challenges the notion of America as the land of opportunity".[76][77][78]

Several public figures and commentators, from David Frum to Richard G. Wilkinson, have said that the American Dream is better realized in Denmark, which is ranked as having the highest social mobility in the OECD.[79][80][81][82][83] In the U.S., 50% of a father's income position is inherited by his son. In contrast, the amount in Norway or Canada is less than 20%. Moreover, in the U.S. 8% of children raised in the bottom 20% of the climbed to the top 20% as adult, while the figure in Denmark is nearly double at 15%.[84][85][86] In 2015, economist Joseph Stiglitz stated, "Maybe we should be calling the American Dream the Scandinavian Dream."[87]

A 2023 paper written by academics at Bocconi University, the Rockwool Foundation, and Stockholm University found that "Intergenerational poverty in the U.S. is four times stronger than in Denmark and Germany, and twice as strong as in Australia and the UK," and that an American child who grows up in poverty has "a 43 percentage point higher mean poverty exposure during early adulthood (relative to an adult with no child poverty exposure)," the highest of the five countries and exceeding the next highest by over 20 percentage points. The researchers found that "the persistence of poverty is strongly connected to tax rates and what they call transfer insurance effects, which can be considered as akin to a social safety net," and that the "U.S. is the archetype of a liberal and residualist welfare state, featuring stratified access to higher education and employment, strong earnings returns to higher education, and a comparatively weak welfare state to insure against risks in adulthood," as well as that "exposure to childhood poverty is particularly severe in the US."[88]

A 2017 study stated that the UK, Canada, and Denmark all offered a greater chance of social mobility.[89] Black families were stated to be disadvantaged relative to white families when it comes to both upward mobility from the bottom and downward mobility from the top according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, with social mobility nationwide appearing to have declined since 1980.[90] Social mobility can also vary widely geographically according to a 2014 paper, with the Southeast and lower East North Central states ranking near the bottom.[91]

In the United States, home ownership is sometimes used as a proxy for achieving the promised prosperity; home ownership has been a status symbol separating the middle classes from the poor.[92]

Sometimes the American Dream is identified with success in sports or how working class immigrants seek to join the American way of life.[93]

According to a 2020 American Journal of Political Science study, Americans become less likely to believe in the attainability of the American dream as income inequality increases.[94] A 2022 study in the same journal found that exposure to "rags-to-riches" narratives in entertainment make Americans more likely to believe in upward mobility.[6]

According to a 2023 private opinion survey of American people by a Boston-based organization, Populace, the American Dream has shifted its narrative from fame and wealth to personal factors such as secure retirement, financial independence, parenthood and finding fulfillment in their work.[95]

Four American Dreams

Ownby (1999) identifies four American Dreams that the new consumer culture of the early 20th century addressed:

Ownby acknowledges that the American Dreams of the new consumer culture radiated out from the major cities, but notes that they quickly penetrated the most rural and most isolated areas, such as rural Mississippi. With the arrival of affordable automobiles such as the Ford Model T in the 1910s, consumers in rural America were no longer forced to only buy from local general stores with their limited merchandise and high prices, and could instead visit cheaper, better-stocked shops in towns and cities. Ownby demonstrates that poor black Mississippians shared in the new consumer culture, and it motivated the more ambitious to move to Memphis or Chicago.[96][97]

Other parts of the world

The aspirations of the "American Dream" in the broad sense of upward mobility have been systematically spread to other nations since the 1890s as American missionaries and businessmen consciously sought to spread the Dream, says Rosenberg. Looking at American business, religious missionaries, philanthropies, Hollywood, labor unions and U.S. government agencies, she says they saw their mission not in catering to foreign elites but instead reaching the world's masses in a democratic fashion: "They linked mass production, mass marketing, and technological improvement to an enlightened democratic spirit ... In the emerging litany of the American dream what historian Daniel J. Boorstin later termed a 'democracy of things' would disprove both Malthus's predictions of scarcity and Marx's of class conflict." It was, she says "a vision of global social progress".[98] Rosenberg calls the overseas version of the American Dream "liberal-developmentalism" and identified five critical components:

(1) belief that other nations could and should replicate America's own developmental experience; (2) faith in private free enterprise; (3) support for free or open access for trade and investment; (4) promotion of free flow of information and culture; and (5) growing acceptance of [U.S.] governmental activity to protect private enterprise and to stimulate and regulate American participation in international economic and cultural exchange.[99]

Knights and McCabe argued American management gurus have taken the lead in exporting the ideas: "By the latter half of the twentieth century they were truly global and through them the American Dream continues to be transmitted, repackaged and sold by an infantry of consultants and academics backed up by an artillery of books and videos".[100]

Germany and Italy

In West Germany after World War II, says Reiner Pommerin, "the most intense motive was the longing for a better life, more or less identical with the American dream, which also became a German dream".[101] Cassamagnaghi argues that to women in Italy after 1945, films and magazine stories about American life offered an American Dream. New York City especially represented a sort of utopia where every sort of dream and desire could become true. Italian women saw a model for their own emancipation from second class status in their patriarchal society.[102]


The American dream regarding home ownership had little resonance before the 1980s.[103] In the 1980s, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher worked to create a similar dream, by selling public-housing units to their tenants. Her Conservative Party called for more home ownership: "HOMES OF OUR OWN: To most people ownership means first and foremost a home of their own ... We should like in time to improve on existing legislation with a realistic grants scheme to assist first-time buyers of cheaper homes."[104] Guest calls this Thatcher's approach to the American Dream.[105] Knights and McCabe argue that "a reflection and reinforcement of the American Dream has been the emphasis on individualism as extolled by Margaret Thatcher and epitomized by the 'enterprise' culture."[106]


Since the fall of communism in the Soviet Union in 1991, the American Dream has fascinated Russians.[107] The first post-Communist leader Boris Yeltsin embraced the "American way" and teamed up with Harvard University free market economists Jeffrey Sachs and Robert Allison to give Russia economic shock therapy in the 1990s. The newly independent Russian media idealized America and endorsed shock therapy for the economy.[108] In 2008 Russian President Dmitry Medvedev lamented the fact that 77% of Russia's 142 million people live "cooped up" in apartment buildings. In 2010 his administration announced a plan for widespread home ownership: "Call it the Russian Dream", said Alexander Braverman, the Director of the Federal Fund for the Promotion of Housing Construction Development. In 2010, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, worried about his nation's very low birth rate, said he hoped home ownership would inspire Russians "to have more babies".[109]


Main article: Chinese Dream

Shanghai in 2019

The Chinese Dream describes a set of ideals in the People's Republic of China. It is used by journalists, government officials and activists to describe the aspiration of individual self-improvement in Chinese society. Although the phrase has been used previously by Western journalists and scholars,[110][111] a translation of a New York Times article written by the American journalist Thomas Friedman, "China Needs Its Own Dream", has been credited with popularizing the concept in China.[111] He attributes the term to Peggy Liu and the environmental NGO JUCCCE's China Dream project,[112][113] which defines the Chinese Dream as sustainable development.[113] In 2013, China's new paramount leader Xi Jinping began promoting the phrase as a slogan, leading to its widespread use in the Chinese media.[114]

The concept of the Chinese Dream is very similar to the idea of the American Dream. It stresses entrepreneurship and glorifies a generation of self-made men and women in post-reform China, such as rural immigrants who moved to the urban centers and improved their living standards and social life. The Chinese Dream can be interpreted as the collective consciousness of Chinese people during the era of social transformation and economic progress. The idea was put forward by Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping on November 29, 2012. The government hoped to revitalize China, while promoting innovation and technology to boost the international prestige of China. In this light, the Chinese Dream, like the American Dream, is a nationalistic concept as well, providing a vision of a sort of Chinese exceptionalism.

According to Ellen Brown, writing in 2019, over 90% of Chinese families own their own homes, giving the country one of the highest rates of home ownership in the world.[115]

See also


  1. ^ "Posterity" is a now-archaic term referring to one's descendants.


  1. ^ Bain, Brittney (Winter 2021). "The State of the American Dream". The Catalyst magazine, George W. Bush Presidential Center. Retrieved March 8, 2024.
  2. ^ Wills, Matthew (May 18, 2015). "James Truslow Adams: Dreaming up the American Dream". JSTOR Daily. Retrieved March 8, 2024.
  3. ^ Churchell, Sarah (Winter 2021). "A Brief History of the American Dream". The Catalyst magazine, George W. Bush Presidential Center. Retrieved March 8, 2024.
  4. ^ "The American Dream | Classroom Materials". Library of Congress. Retrieved March 9, 2024.
  5. ^ Kamp, David (April 2009). "Rethinking the American Dream". Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on May 30, 2009. Retrieved June 20, 2009.
  6. ^ a b c Kim, Eunji (2022). "Entertaining Beliefs in Economic Mobility". American Journal of Political Science. 67: 39–54. doi:10.1111/ajps.12702. ISSN 0092-5853. S2CID 247443342.
  7. ^ Mitnik, Pablo A.; Bryant, Victoria L.; Grusky, David B. (2024). "A Very Uneven Playing Field: Economic Mobility in the United States". American Journal of Sociology. 129 (4): 1216–1276. doi:10.1086/728737. ISSN 0002-9602. Archived from the original on March 19, 2024.
  8. ^ Harder for Americans to Rise From Lower Rungs | By JASON DePARLE | January 4, 2012]
  9. ^ Corak, Miles (May 2016). "Inequality from Generation to Generation: The United States in Comparison" (PDF). IZA Institute of Labor Economics.
  10. ^ Alesina, Alberto; Stantcheva, Stefanie (Autumn 2019). "Mobility: Real and Perceived" (PDF). City Journal.
  11. ^ "The Global Social Mobility Report 2020" (PDF). World Economic Forum. January 2020.
  12. ^ a b "In 2020, do people see the American Dream as attainable? | YouGov". Retrieved November 14, 2022.
  13. ^ Hanson, Sandra L. (December 2, 2023). "Whose Dream?". Whose Dream? Gender and the American Dream. Temple University Press. pp. 77–104. ISBN 9781439903148. JSTOR j.ctt14bt97n.8. Retrieved November 30, 2023.
  14. ^ "Global education and the 'American Dream'". University World News. Retrieved November 14, 2022.
  15. ^ "Bargaining for the American Dream". Center for American Progress. September 9, 2015. Archived from the original on January 26, 2024. Retrieved March 8, 2024.
  16. ^ "The unexpected revival of America's trade unions". Financial Times. Retrieved March 8, 2024.
  17. ^ Green, Ted Van. "Majorities of adults see decline of union membership as bad for the U.S. and working people". Pew Research Center. Retrieved March 8, 2024.
  18. ^ Bloom, Jordan (March 24, 2022). "Which American Dream?". Intercollegiate Studies Institute. Retrieved March 8, 2024.
  19. ^ "Perspective | The big problem with the American Dream". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved November 14, 2022.
  20. ^ Lord Dunmore to Lord Dartmouth, December 24, 1774, quoted in John Miller, Origins of the American Revolution (1944) p. 77
  21. ^ "The Declaration of Independence and the American Dream | History News Network". Retrieved November 30, 2023.
  22. ^ F. W. Bogen, The German in America (Boston, 1851), quoted in Stephen Ozment, A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People (2004) pp. 170–71
  23. ^ H. W. Brands, The age of gold: the California Gold Rush and the new American dream (2003) p. 442.
  24. ^ Tyrrell, Ian (2015). Transnational Nation: United States History in Global Perspective since 1789 (2nd ed.). Palgrave MacMillan. ISBN 978-1137338549.
  25. ^ Turner, Frederick Jackson (1920). "The Significance of the Frontier in American History". The Frontier in American History. p. 293.
  26. ^ Turner, The Frontier in American History (1920) chapter 1
  27. ^ Bogue, Allan G. (1994). "Frederick Jackson Turner Reconsidered". The History Teacher. 27 (2). p. 195. doi:10.2307/494720. JSTOR 494720.
  28. ^ a b c Adams, James Truslow (September 29, 2017). The Epic of America. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-351-30410-8.
  29. ^ Quoted in James T. Kloppenberg, The Virtues of Liberalism (1998). p. 147
  30. ^ J. A. Leo Lemay, "Franklin's Autobiography and the American Dream", in J. A. Leo Lemay and P. M. Zall, eds. Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography (Norton Critical Editions, 1986) pp. 349–360
  31. ^ James E. Miller, Jr., "My Antonia and the American Dream" Prairie Schooner 48, no. 2 (Summer 1974) pp. 112–123.
  32. ^ Harold Bloom and Blake Hobby, eds. The American Dream (2009)
  33. ^ Nicholas Canaday, Jr., "Albee's The American Dream and the Existential Vacuum". South Central Bulletin Vol. 26, No. 4 (Winter 1966) pp. 28–34
  34. ^ Hayley Haugen, ed., The American Dream in John Steinbeck's of Mice and Men (2010)
  35. ^ Lloyd W. Brown, "The American Dream and the Legacy of Revolution in the Poetry of Langston Hughes" Studies in Black Literature (Spring 1976) pp. 16–18.
  36. ^ Riofio, John (2015). "Fractured Dreams: Life and Debt in United States of Banana" (PDF). Biennial Conference on Latina/o Utopias Literatures: "Latina/o Utopias: Futures, Forms, and the Will of Literature". Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2017. Retrieved May 19, 2015. Braschi's novel is a scathing critique...of over-wrought concepts of Liberty and the American Dream....(It) connects the dots between 9/11, the suppression of individual liberties, and the fragmentation of the individuals and communities in favor of a collective worship of the larger dictates of the market and the economy.
  37. ^ Anupama Jain (2011). How to Be South Asian in America: Narratives of Ambivalence and Belonging. Temple University Press. ISBN 978-1439903032. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  38. ^ Guiyou Huang, The Columbia guide to Asian American literature since 1945 (2006), pp 44, 67, 85, 94.
  39. ^ Neumann, Henry. Teaching American Ideals through Literature. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1918. Print.
  40. ^ Symposium: The Role of the Judge in the Twenty-first Century. Boston: Boston U Law School, 2006. Print.
  41. ^ The pictures originally illustrated a cautionary tale published in 1869 in the Swedish periodical Läsning för folket, the organ of the Society for the Propagation of Useful Knowledge (Sällskapet för nyttiga kunskapers spridande). H. Arnold Barton, A Folk Divided: Homeland Swedes and Swedish Americans, 152547256425264562564562462654666 FILS DE (Uppsala, 1994) p. 71.
  42. ^ Greider, William. The Nation, May 6, 2009. The Future of the American Dream
  43. ^ a b Johnson, 2006, pp. 6–10. "The crucial point is not that inequalities exist, but that they are being perpetuated in recurrent patterns—they are not always the result of individual success or failure, nor are they randomly distributed throughout the population. In the contemporary United States, the structure of wealth systematically transmits race and class inequalities through generations despite deep-rooted belief otherwise."
  44. ^ Dalton Gross and MaryJean Gross, Understanding The Great Gatsby (1998) p. 5
  45. ^ Stephen E. Ambrose, Douglas Brinkley, Witness to America (1999) p. 518
  46. ^ a b Smith, Mark A. (2010) The Mobilization and Influence of Business Interests in L. Sandy Maisel, Jeffrey M. Berry (2010) The Oxford Handbook of American Political Parties and Interest Groups p. 460
  47. ^ "George Carlin and the American Dream". Scheerpost. April 17, 2023. Retrieved July 23, 2023.
  48. ^ Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco (2012). Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt. pp. 226–227. Nation Books. ISBN 1568586434
  49. ^ Gordon B. Arnold. Projecting the End of the American Dream: Hollywood's Vision of U.S. Decline. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2013.
  50. ^ Barbara Klinger, "The Road to Dystopia: Landscaping the Nation in Easy Rider" in Steven Cohan, ed. The Road Movie Book (1997).
  51. ^ Jeremi Suri, "Henry Kissinger, the American Dream, and the Jewish Immigrant Experience in the Cold War", Diplomatic History, Nov 2008, Vol. 32 Issue 5, pp. 719–747
  52. ^ Dan Dervin, "The Dream-Life of Hillary Clinton", Journal of Psychohistory, Fall 2008, Vol. 36 Issue 2, pp. 157–162
  53. ^ Edward J. Blum, "Lincoln's American Dream: Clashing Political Perspectives", Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, Summer 2007, Vol. 28 Issue 2, pp. 90–93
  54. ^ David McDonald, Jose Antonio Navarro: In Search of the American Dream in Nineteenth-Century Texas (Texas State Historical Association, 2011)
  55. ^ Deborah F. Atwater, "Senator Barack Obama: The Rhetoric of Hope and the American Dream", Journal of Black Studies, Nov 2007, Vol. 38 Issue 2, pp. 121–129
  56. ^ Willie J. Harrell, "'The Reality of American Life Has Strayed From Its Myths'", Journal of Black Studies, Sep 2010, Vol. 41 Issue 1, pp. 164–183 online
  57. ^ Matthias Maass, "Which Way to Take the American Dream: The U.S. Elections of 2008 and 2010 as a Struggle for Political Ownership of the American Dream", Australasian Journal of American Studies (July 2012), vol 31 pp. 25–41.
  58. ^ James Laxer and Robert Laxer, The Liberal Idea of Canada: Pierre Trudeau and the Question of Canada's Survival (1977) pp. 83–85
  59. ^ Leara D. Rhodes, The Ethnic Press: Shaping the American Dream (Peter Lang Publishing; 2010)
  60. ^ Lawrence R. Samuel (2012). The American Dream: A Cultural History. Syracuse UP. p. 7. ISBN 978-0815651871.
  61. ^ Heather Beth Johnson (2014). American Dream and Power Wealth. Routledge. p. 43. ISBN 978-1134728794.
  62. ^ Mark Robert Rank; et al. (2014). Chasing the American Dream: Understanding What Shapes Our Fortunes. Oxford U.P. p. 61. ISBN 978-0195377910.
  63. ^ "Lack of social mobility more of an 'occupational hazard' than previously known".
  64. ^ a b Sandra L. Hanson, and John Zogby, "The Polls – Trends", Public Opinion Quarterly, Sept 2010, Vol. 74 Issue 3, pp. 570–584
  65. ^ Henderson, Ben. "American Dream Slipping Away, But Hope Intact". YouGov. Retrieved August 8, 2013.
  66. ^ Americans View Higher Education as Key to American Dream Public Agenda – May 2000
  67. ^ Donald L. Barlett; James B. Steele (2012). The Betrayal of the American Dream. PublicAffairs. pp. 125–126. ISBN 978-1586489700.
  68. ^ The Fallen American Dream Archived June 30, 2013, at
  69. ^ "Trends in Family Wealth, 1989 to 2013". Congressional Budget Office. August 18, 2016.
  70. ^ Autor, David (May 23, 2014), "Skills, education, and the rise of earnings inequality among the "other 99 percent"", Science Magazine, vol. 344, no. 6186, pp. 843–851, Bibcode:2014Sci...344..843A, doi:10.1126/science.1251868, hdl:1721.1/96768, PMID 24855259, S2CID 5622764
  71. ^ Corak M (2013). "Inequality from Generation to Generation: The United States in Comparison". In Rycroft RS (ed.). The Economics of Inequality, Poverty, and Discrimination in the 21st Century. ABC-CLIO. p. 111. ISBN 978-0313396922.
  72. ^ Beller, Emily; Hout, Michael (2006). "Intergenerational Social Mobility: The United States in Comparative Perspective". The Future of Children. 16 (2): 19–36. doi:10.1353/foc.2006.0012. JSTOR 3844789. PMID 17036544. S2CID 26362679.
  73. ^ Miles Corak, "How to Slide Down the 'Great Gatsby Curve': Inequality, Life Chances, and Public Policy in the United States", December 2012, Center for American Progress.
  74. ^ Jo Blanden; Paul Gregg; Stephen Machin (April 2005). "Intergenerational Mobility in Europe and North America" (PDF). The Sutton Trust. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 20, 2013.
  75. ^ CAP: Understanding Mobility in America – April 26, 2006
  76. ^ Economic Mobility: Is the American Dream Alive and Well? Archived May 3, 2012, at the Wayback Machine Economic Mobility Project – May 2007
  77. ^ Obstacles to social mobility weaken equal opportunities and economic growth, says OECD study, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Economics Department, February 10, 2010.
  78. ^ Harder for Americans to Rise From Lower Rungs | By Jason DeParle | January 4, 2012
  79. ^ David Frum (October 19, 2011). The American Dream moves to Denmark. The Week. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  80. ^ Wilkinson, Richard (Oct 2011). How economic inequality harms societies Archived February 27, 2014, at the Wayback Machine (transcript). TED. (Quote featured on his personal profile on the TED website). Retrieved December 13, 2014.
  81. ^ Diane Roberts (January 17, 2012). Want to get ahead? Move to Denmark. The Guardian. Retrieved December 13, 2014.
  82. ^ Kerry Trueman (October 7, 2011). Looking for the American Dream? Try Denmark. The Huffington Post. Retrieved December 13, 2014.
  83. ^ Matt O'Brien (August 3, 2016). This country has figured out the only way to save the American Dream. The Washington Post. Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  84. ^ Rank, Mark R; Eppard, Lawrence M (March 13, 2021). "The American Dream of upward mobility is broken. Look at the numbers". The Guardian.
  85. ^ "Comparing Economic Mobility". Retrieved October 20, 2022.
  86. ^ "American Exceptionalism in a New Light: A Comparison of Intergenerational Earnings Mobility in the Nordic Countries, the United Kingdom and the United States". Retrieved October 20, 2022.
  87. ^ 'Scandinavian Dream' is true fix for America's income inequality. CNN Money. June 3, 2015.
  88. ^ Parolin, Zachary, Rafael P. Schmitt, Gosta Esping-Andersen, and Peter Fallesen. 2023. "The Intergenerational Persistence of Poverty in High-income Countries." OSF Preprints. May 30. doi:10.31219/
  89. ^ Costa, Pedro Nicolaci da. "You're twice as likely to live the American Dream in Canada". Business Insider. Retrieved June 28, 2023.
  90. ^ Mazumder, Bhash (April 2022). "Intergenerational Economic Mobility in the United States". Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Retrieved June 28, 2023.
  91. ^ Chetty, Raj; Hendren, Nathaniel; Kline, Patrick; Saez, Emmanuel (2014). "Where is the Land of Opportunity? The Geography of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States" (PDF). Cambridge, MA. doi:10.3386/w19843.
  92. ^ William M. Rohe and Harry L. Watson, Chasing the American Dream: New Perspectives on Affordable Homeownership (2007)
  93. ^ Thomas M. Tarapacki, Chasing the American Dream: Polish Americans in Sports (1995); Steve Wilson. The Boys from Little Mexico: A Season Chasing the American Dream (2010) is a true story of immigrant boys on a high school soccer team who struggle not only in their quest to win the state championship, but also in their desire to adapt as strangers in a new land.
  94. ^ Wolak, Jennifer; Peterson, David A. M. (2020). "The Dynamic American Dream". American Journal of Political Science. 64 (4): 968–981. doi:10.1111/ajps.12522. ISSN 1540-5907. S2CID 219100278.
  95. ^ Kilmeade, Brian (October 1, 2023). "Study reveals shift in American Dream from fame to family". Fox News.
  96. ^ Ted Ownby, American Dreams in Mississippi: Consumers, Poverty, and Culture 1830–1998 (University of North Carolina Press, 1999)
  97. ^ Christopher Morris, "Shopping for America in Mississippi, or How I Learn to Stop Complaining and Love the Pemberton Mall", Reviews in American History" March 2001 v.29#1 103–110
  98. ^ Emily S. Rosenberg, Spreading the American Dream: American Economic and Cultural Expansion 1890–1945 (1982) pp. 22–23
  99. ^ Rosenberg, Spreading the American Dream p. 7
  100. ^ David Knights and Darren McCabe, Organization and Innovation: Guru Schemes and American Dreams (2003) p 35
  101. ^ Reiner Pommerin (1997). The American Impact on Postwar Germany. Berghahn Books. p. 84. ISBN 978-1571810953.
  102. ^ Cassamagnaghi, Silvia. "New York nella stampa femminile italiana del secondo dopoguerra ["New York in the Italian women's press after World War II"]". Storia Urbana (Dec. 2005): 91–111.
  103. ^ Niall Ferguson, The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World (2009) p .252
  104. ^ See "Conservative manifesto, 1979 Archived May 22, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  105. ^ David E. Guest, "Human Resource Management and the American Dream", Journal of Management Studies (1990) 27#4 pp. 377–397, reprinted in Michael Poole, Human Resource Management: Origins, Developments and Critical Analyses (1999) p. 159
  106. ^ Knights and McCabe, Organization and Innovation (2003) p. 4
  107. ^ Richard M. Ryan et al., "The American Dream in Russia: Extrinsic Aspirations and Well-Being in Two Cultures", Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, (Dec. 1999) vol. 25 no. 12 pp. 1509–1524, shows the Russian ideology converging toward the American one, especially among men.
  108. ^ Donald J. Raleigh (2011). Soviet Baby Boomers: An Oral History of Russia's Cold War Generation. Oxford U.P. p. 331. ISBN 978-0199744343.
  109. ^ Anastasia Ustinova, "Building the New Russian Dream, One Home at a Time", Bloomberg Business Week, June 28 – July 4, 2010, pp. 7–8
  110. ^ Fallows, James (May 3, 2013). "Today's China Notes: Dreams, Obstacles". The Atlantic.
  111. ^ a b "The role of Thomas Friedman". The Economist. May 6, 2013.
  112. ^ Fish, Isaac Stone (May 3, 2013). "Thomas Friedman: I only deserve partial credit for coining the 'Chinese dream'". Foreign Policy.
  113. ^ a b "China Dream". JUCCCE.
  114. ^ Xi Jinping and the Chinese Dream The Economist May 4, 2013, p. 11
  115. ^ Brown, Ellen (June 13, 2019). "The American Dream Is Alive and Well – in China". Truthdig. Retrieved June 15, 2019.

Further reading