White Americans are by far more pessimistic about the country’s future than racial minorities, according to a new poll released Monday that studied attitudes about “the American Dream.”
The study of 1,022 American adults by Xavier University found broad agreement that the American Dream – which respondents defined themselves – is harder to achieve now than it has been in the past, and will be even harder for the next generation.
The data shows that “people are losing faith” in the idea that they can achieve whatever they set their mind to, said a release put out by Xavier’s Institute for Politics and the American Dream.
But outlooks were most grim among white respondents – only 29 percent of whites surveyed said the American Dream was in good condition, compared with 48 percent who said it is in bad condition.
Among black Americans, 39 percent were optimistic about achieving the American Dream, with 35 percent pessimistic. Latinos were optimistic by a 37 percent to 36 percent margin, and non-white’s were positive by 36 percent to 35 percent.
Immigrants to the U.S. also were found to be far more positive about the American Dream (47 percent optimistic to 30 percent pessimistic) than U.S.-born citizens (31 percent to 46 percent).
Respondents chose from several options in defining what they believe the American Dream to be. The top choices were opportunity, freedom, family, financial security, happiness, a good job, home ownership and wealth.
An overwhelming majority, 74 percent, said achieving the American Dream is based on hard work, while 11 percent said it is due to luck or circumstances.
Despite their pessimism, 67 percent of those surveyed said they are still confident they can achieve the American Dream in their lifetime, compared to 32 percent who said they are not confident.
Only 23 percent said it will be easier for the next generation to achieve the American Dream, while 68 percent said it will harder.