By: Martha C. White
December 1, 2011
American Dream deferred: We now embrace more modest, personal goals
As conceptual ideals go, the American Dream is pretty iconic. And for a long time, it was pretty easy to define: People worked to earn a college degree, get a good job, buy a house and have a spouse and kids. But then the Great Recession came along and upended everything. Now, our goals are more modest -- like having a financial safety net -- but are still out of reach for many Americans, especially those approaching retirement age. Nearly half -- 44% -- of Americans say they're working harder than their parents did at their age. In MetLife's fifth annual survey about the American Dream, more than 80% of respondents say attaining the American Dream is very or somewhat important, but the yardstick we've used to measure whether or not we're living that dream has changed drastically. Some of the shift is generational: 41% of all respondents say the American Dream is about personal fulfillment. But within that total, there's a big gap. While only a third of Boomers agree with that statement, more than half of Gen Y respondents do.