“The American Dream” most often conjures up images of opportunity, success, happiness. But these ideals have evolved since 1931 when the phrase was coined by the writer James Truslow Adams. Adams intended for the American Dream to signify idealism and freedom more than “material prosperity,” according to The Atlantic. He writes in his book The Epic of America that “the economic motive was unquestioningly powerful, often dominant, in the minds of those who took part in the great migration [to America], but mixed with this was also frequently present the hope of a better and a freer life, a life in which a man might think as he would and develop as he willed… for himself and his children.” Somewhere down the line, the American Dream shifted into something more tangible than freedom and hope. An infographic originally published by NPR, which took data through the year 2010, quantifies the American Dream into four material categories—the House, the Car, the Degree, and the Money—and heads the chart up with Optimism.
According to the graph, homeownership has increased from 46.5 per cent in 1940 to 65.1 per cent in 2010. More families in 2010 own multiple cars than in 1960. Many people are earning more, but saving less. More people are attending college, but the cost of education has multiplied.
Perhaps, according to the infographic, more people are achieving the “American Dream” nowadays than they were decades ago, but the American Dream, defined materially, also costs a whole lot more. NPR also notes that 59% of American parents think it will be harder for their children to achieve the American Dream. Scroll down to see NPR’s infographic:
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