There is a notion in the United States of the "American Dream” which — according to Americans who believe in it — is either the idea that people will have a chance at success if they work hard enough, or that anyone can obtain a better life. In 2022, however, fewer than half of Americans believe there is such a thing as the American dream.
A recent YouGov poll indicates that 43% of U.S. adult citizens believe that the American dream exists, while 35% do not and 23% are unsure of whether it does. Republicans (62%) and people 65 and older (53%) are more likely than Americans overall to believe it does exist. Adults under 30 are the least likely age group to say there is such a thing as the American dream (29%), with 40% saying that it doesn’t exist and 31% uncertain.
Among people who believe there is such a thing as the American dream, many define it as an ability to achieve economic success with hard work. Others talk about living a life of freedom without government interference, or name specific markers of achieving the dream, such as home ownership and being able to pay for their children to attend college.
Only 30% of Americans overall believe in the American dream and see it as very or somewhat attainable for themselves personally, while 9% believe in it but say it is very or somewhat unattainable.
People who said the American dream is unattainable for themselves were asked in an open-end question why they believe that to be the case. Many cite income inequality in the U.S., personal financial struggles, an inability to work, and current economic challenges as reasons that the American dream is not attainable for them.
— Carl Bialik contributed to this article
This poll was conducted on July 1 - 6, 2022, among 1,000 U.S. adult citizens. Explore more on the methodology and data for this poll.