Public attitudes about the American dream are somewhat more positive. Most Americans believe they are already living the American dream (32 percent) or that they will reach it in their lifetime (31 percent). Thirty-six percent of Americans say they will not reach it in their lifetime.
Although white Americans are far more likely than others to report that they have achieved the American dream, black (41 percent), Hispanic (40 percent), and Asian (44 percent) Americans generally remain optimistic that it is still within reach. Nearly four in 10 (39 percent) white Americans say they are living the American dream, compared to fewer than one in four Hispanic (24 percent), Asian (21 percent), and black (18 percent) Americans. Despite these differences in experience, more than one-third of black (40 percent), Hispanic (36 percent), and Asian (35 percent), and white (34 percent) Americans believe they will not achieve the American dream in their lifetime.
Understandably, perspectives on the American dream vary with age. Sixty-three percent of retirees (age 65 and older) believe they have already achieved the American dream. An additional 12 percent say they will yet reach it. Older Americans (24 percent) are also least likely to say they will not reach the American dream in their lifetime. Roughly four in 10 young and middle-aged Americans are similarly pessimistic (40 percent vs. 39 percent, respectively).
Education, a core element of socioeconomic mobility, is closely associated with perceptions of the American dream. Twenty-three percent of high school–educated Americans say they have already achieved the American dream, compared to 30 percent of Americans with some college or an associate degree, 42 percent of Americans with a four-year degree, and 47 percent of Americans with an advanced degree. This educational divide is mirrored among Americans who say they will not reach the American dream in their lifetime. Forty-two percent of high school–educated Americans say they will not achieve the American dream, compared to 24 percent of college-educated Americans.