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U.S. News

Survey: over 4 in 10 see American Dream as unattainable

By Jake Beardslee · November 21, 2023

In brief…

  • 42% of Americans surveyed feel the American dream is now unattainable, up significantly since 2018
  • Financial security seen as most important factor in American dream today
  • 70% still confident about achieving home ownership for their family
  • Shifting attitudes found on children caring for aging parents later in life
  • Just 39% confident about retiring at target age; top financial regrets include not saving/investing early enough
Per a new survey by MassMutual, over 4 in 10 Americans view the American dream as increasingly out of reach, driven by economic uncertainties and shifting family dynamics  銀河市長/Wikimedia

A new survey suggests that the revered “American dream” - representing ideals like financial security and homeownership - is increasingly seen as unattainable by today’s families. The “State of the American Family” report released this month by financial services firm MassMutual found 42% of respondents feel the American dream is out of reach - a significant increase from 36% in 2018.

“With many people struggling to find a balance between their day-to-day expenses and their short-term and long-term financial goals, it is no wonder that many are questioning if achieving the American Dream, however they define it, is possible,” said Amanda Wallace, Head of Insurance Operations at MassMutual to FOX Business.

The study identified families’ financial security as the top priority in defining the American dream today, displacing previous mainstays like homeownership. Still, around 70% remain confident about attaining home ownership for their family.

“For generations, home ownership has been the ‘norm’ that many adults have grown up experiencing or witnessing. And looking around today, they see many people owning a home,” Wallace explained.

Pessimism about achieving the American dream, Wallace added, is “likely driven by living paycheck to paycheck, and the level of student loan and credit card loan debt that many are carrying today.”

The survey also found shifting attitudes on elder care, with 86% of parents now opposed to their children caring for them later in life - up from 79% in 2018. Confidence about being able to personally care for aging parents has plummeted from 81% to 59% over the same period.

With just 39% expressing confidence about retiring at their target age, topping respondents’ financial regrets were “not starting early enough to save and invest, carrying credit card and student loan debt too long, and spending money on the wrong things or at the wrong time,” said Wallace.