Greetings, lecturers and fellow students. My name is Anders and I’m a sophomore here at John Hopkins University. Today, I would like to talk about the American Dream and how it has changed over time.
The term, the American Dream has been used in numerous speeches of politicians and sociologists, such as Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King.
For the first time ever in 1931, historian James Truslow Adams publicly defined the American Dream. He defined it as “A dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which the are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position”.
This means that no matter what social class you belong to, no matter what ethnical origin you may have, you should always have the opportunity to enhance your conditions in life. Diligence, enterprise, innovation, ingenuity, hope and freedom are therefore central ideas when defining the American Dream.
The United States has a population of 326 million, so there are different perceptions of the American Dream, depending on which generation the “Dreamer” is. However, they all believe that the American Dream is still attainable. All three generations define the American Dream as owning a home, being debt-free and retiring comfortably, however they do prioritize them differently.
Boomers places equal emphasis on owning a home and retiring comfortably (59%) and less on being debt-free. Baby boomers place the most emphasis on retiring comfortably, followed by owning a home and being debt-free. Millennials, which is our generation, say that the most important aspects of the American Dream are owning a home and having no debt, with retiring comfortably taking third place.