Young Whites Increasingly Skeptical of American Dream

Disgusted millenial AP Paul Sancya
AP/Paul Sancya

According to a new Fusion 2016 Issues Poll, the percentage of young white people age 18-35 who believe the American Dream is dead has almost tripled since 1986.

The Fusion poll asked respondents the same questions posed by a Roper/Wall Street Journal poll in 1986, when the percentage of Americans 18-35 who believed the American Dream was “not really alive” stood at 12%; that percentage has soared to 29% today. Among young whites, the percentage rested at only 10% in 1986. Among white non-college graduates, only one-fifth thought the American Dream was dead in 1986; today one-third believe that the dream is moribund.

Young people are increasingly less interested in pursuing wealth, according to the Fusion poll; only 29% said that amassing money was part of the American Dream, as opposed to 40% in 1986. Sixty-nine percent of 2014 college graduates were burdened with student loan debt.

Over 60% of white college graduates said the dream had become harder to reach; roughly 70% agreed; 535 of non-whites agreed.

Among non-whites the percentage has not changed; twice as many non-whites believed the American Dream was dead in 1986, the same as today. Among young black Americans, one third said the American Dream means nothing to them, twice as many as Latinos and whites.

The median income of both whites and blacks remained fairly constant from 1987 to 2015, according to the Census Bureau, while Latinos’ median income shot up roughly 7% in the same period.

A February 2015 Fusion Poll found that a plurality of millenials felt the most important issue was for the next president to address the economy and jobs. A March 2015 Fusion Poll reported that roughly two-thirds of white millennials felt that the country was heading in the wrong direction, along with 71% of millennial blacks, 53% of millennial Latinos, and 49% of millennial Asian-Pacific Islanders.

The same poll found 58% of white millenials disapproved of Barack Obama, compared to only 13% of millennial blacks, 34% of Latino, and 37% of Asian-Pacific Islanders.


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