The American dream is a land where life is better for every individual with opportunities galore based on each person’s talent and ability. Homeownership, business ownership, and education are seen as critical factors in achieving the American dream. The US has a number of factors that allow it to foster this dream for millions throughout history. 

The ‘American dream’ is famous across the world. But what exactly is it? What makes it one of the most sought-after terms among communities around the globe? Read on to find out. 

What is the American dream?  

The belief is that any person no matter where they are from or what class of society they were born into, can become successful in their own right in a society that allows for everyone to move upward. This comes from hard work, taking risks and sacrifice, rather than just leaving everything up to chance and hoping to get lucky someday. 

History of the American dream 

The term ‘American dream’ came from writer James Truslow Adams in his book ‘Epic of America’. The book was a best seller in 1931. In the book, he explains the term as being a dream for life to be fuller and better for everyone. He proposed opportunities for every person according to their achievements and abilities. 

The dream was not to become rich and own cars and earn high incomes. This dream was different. It was more about a social order in which each person irrespective of their social status or place of birth can achieve the best they are capable of on their own and be recognized by others for the same. 

And the United States of America, being a country that flourished due to the influx of immigrants, became a land where every individual could live to their fullest, become an American, and pass on that identity to the next generation. 

While its origin was only in 1931, the idea of the American dream came much earlier, during the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The lines from it read, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

How is the American dream measured? 

There are quite a few ways to measure whether or not a person is living the American dream or not. One of the biggest yardsticks of measurement is owning a home. Homeownership is often a symbol of independence and financial success. It represents the fact that the person does not have to depend on a landlord for a roof over their head but has the capacity to provide it for themselves. 

Another scale of measure is having your own business. It shows that you are not subject to being under a boss but are in charge of your own occupation. Over the years, the United States has become a world leader that offers everyone the opportunity to realize the American dream while offering access to good healthcare and education for all. 

Pros and cons of the American dream 


The biggest advantage of the American dream is that it promises political and economic equality and freedom for all, along with private property rights and rules of law. This gives Americans complete freedom to make decisions that chart the course of their lives, the freedom to live according to their personal values, the chance to live life with dignity, the freedom and opportunities to achieve bigger things in life, and accumulate wealth. 


The term ‘dream’ itself plays against the idea. It suggests that a dream is far from the harsh truths of reality. Slavery, Native American lands taken over by settlers, restriction of voting rights only to White landowners, etc., are examples.

In the ’70s, it was evident again due to the rapid increase in income inequality. It felt like unless you were born into a wealthy family, you couldn’t become wealthy. Even so, this does not deter people from wanting the American dream. 

What helps the US foster the American dream 

There are several factors that continue to help the US draw people into believing in the American dream. These include the following: 


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