Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Making Education Work for the PoorThe Potential of Children’s Savings Accounts$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Willliam Elliott and Melinda Lewis

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190621568

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190621568.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 June 2021

Conclusion

Conclusion

The American Dream Needs A Wealth Agenda

Chapter:
7 (p.150) Conclusion
Source:
Making Education Work for the Poor
Author(s):

Willliam Elliott

Melinda Lewis

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190621568.003.0011

The American dream is imperiled. Nearly half of Americans who report having once believed that Americans who work hard will get ahead are no longer convinced that is the case. Many doubt that their children’s generation will be better off financially than theirs. Even more alarming, new research suggests that such fears are well-founded. As Americans take stock of their chances to “make it” and find that their realities lag behind their aspirations, the dream withers. Some scholars have even linked recent declines in life expectancy of middle- aged Whites to the hollowing of the American dream, attributing rising mortality rates to “deaths of despair.” Dimming prospects for climbing the economic ladder may threaten the survival of the American experiment. If the verdict was already rendered and the American dream beyond any possible repair, this would be a very different book. Certainly, there are no guarantees that narratives, even broadly shared, endure forever. However, we believe that the American dream is not only salvageable but eminently worth saving. It still holds considerable sway over personal ambitions and collective aspirations in the United States and around the world. In 1931, Adams credited the dream with having “lured tens of millions of all nations to our shores”; today, immigrants and their descendants are the most optimistic about the central premise of the dream: that all who work hard have a fair chance to succeed. Admittedly, the idea that working hard should help people get ahead is not peculiarly “American.” What makes the American Dream uniquely ours is (a) the contention that institutions should aim to create conditions that roughly equalize opportunity and (b) the confidence born of generations’ experiences seeing the dream materialize, albeit unequally. We see the American dream as worth a fight because it defines not only how Americans see themselves and their possible tomorrows but also how they see their nation and the opportunities they believe that nation should extend.

Keywords:   education, effort as inadequate, financial markets, health care, home ownership and equity, housing markets, labor, toxic inequality, wealth agenda, wealth concentration

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .