Chasing the American Dream: Understanding What Shapes Our Fortunes

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OUP USA, 2014 - Business & Economics - 226 pages
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The American Dream lies at the heart and soul of the country. In Chasing the American Dream, Mark Robert Rank, Thomas A. Hirschl, and Kirk A. Foster provide a new and innovative look into the well being of the dream in today's society. They combine for the first time interviews with dozens of Americans, along with a longitudinal study covering 40 years of income dynamics for the national population. By weaving these approaches together, they create a vibrant tapestry upon which to tell the story of the American Dream. Their findings reveal a number of surprises. For most Americans, the meaning of the American Dream lies not in wealth and riches, but rather in economic security, pursuing one's passions, and looking forward toward the future. Yet nearly 80 percent of the population will experience significant economic insecurity at some point between the ages of 25 and 60. In addition, the authors show that the risk of economic vulnerability has been increasing substantially over the past four decades. Yet in spite of these trends, Americans remain upbeat about achieving the American Dream at some point during their lifetimes, although many will struggle to do so. The authors provide an innovative approach for thinking about and increasing the accessibility of the American Dream in the future. Chasing the American Dream provides readers with a new understanding into the dynamics that shape our fortunes, and a deeper insight into the centrality and importance of the American Dream for the future of the country.

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Chasing the American Dream: Understanding What Shapes Our Fortunes

User Review  - Ahmer Qadeer - Book Verdict

Inequality and lopsided wealth distribution are quickly becoming the explanations for what ails today's United States. For many the antidote is to "'restore the American dream," i.e., create pathways ... Read full review


1 Introduction
PART I The Dreams
PART II The Pathways
PART III The Meanings
APPENDIX A Sources of Data
APPENDIX B Additional Analyses

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About the author (2014)

Mark Robert Rank is the Herbert S. Hadley Professor of Social Welfare at Washington University in St. Louis. He is widely recognized as one of the foremost experts and speakers in the country on issues of inequality, poverty, and social justice. He is the recipient of numerous awards, and his research has been reported in a wide range of academic and media outlets.

Thomas A. Hirschl is Professor of Development Sociology at Cornell University. He is the Director of the Population and Development Program, coordinator of the Program Work Team on Poverty and Economic Hardship, and Director of the Teen Assessment Program. His scholarly focus is on social class differentiation in contemporary society.

Kirk A. Foster is Assistant Professor of Social Work at the University of South Carolina. With a background in social work and theology, he researches how people with little or no income can use the resources available to them to make systematic change.

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