Chasing the American Dream: Understanding What Shapes Our Fortunes

Paperback | February 10, 2016

byMark Rank, Thomas Hirschl, Kirk Foster

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The United States has been epitomized as a land of opportunity, where hard work and skill can bring personal success and economic well-being. The American Dream has captured the imagination of people from all walks of life, and to many, it represents the heart and soul of the country. Butthere is another, darker side to the bargain that America strikes with its people - it is the price we pay for our individual pursuit of the American Dream. That price can be found in the economic hardship present in the lives of millions of Americans. In Chasing the American Dream, leading social scientists Mark Robert Rank, Thomas A. Hirschl, and Kirk A. Foster provide a new and innovative look into a curious dynamic - the tension between the promise of economic opportunities and rewards and the amount of turmoil that Americans encounter intheir quest for those rewards. The authors explore questions such as:* What percentage of Americans achieve affluence, and how much income mobility do we actually have?* Are most Americans able to own a home, and at what age?* How is it that nearly 80 percent of us will experience significant economic insecurity at some point between ages 25 and 60?* How can access to the American Dream be increased?Combining personal interviews with dozens of Americans and a longitudinal study covering 40 years of income data, the authors tell the story of the American Dream and reveal a number of surprises. The risk of economic vulnerability has increased substantially over the past four decades, and theAmerican Dream is becoming harder to reach and harder to keep. Yet for most Americans, the Dream lies not in wealth, but in economic security, pursuing one's passions, and looking toward the future. Chasing the American Dream provides us with a new understanding into the dynamics that shape ourfortunes and a deeper insight into the importance of the American Dream for the future of the country.

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The United States has been epitomized as a land of opportunity, where hard work and skill can bring personal success and economic well-being. The American Dream has captured the imagination of people from all walks of life, and to many, it represents the heart and soul of the country. Butthere is another, darker side to the bargain tha...

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...

other books by Mark Rank

Format:PaperbackDimensions:232 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:February 10, 2016Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190467029

ISBN - 13:9780190467029

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Table of Contents

1. IntroductionPart I The Dreams2. Economic Security3. Freedom to Pursue4. The Next HorizonPart II The Pathways5. The Landscape of Opportunity6. Upward Mobility7. Cumulative Inequality8. Twists of FatePart III The Meanings9. The Significance of the American Dream10. Reshaping the FutureBack MatterAppendix A: Sources of DataAppendix B: Additional AnalysesBibliography

Editorial Reviews

"In his exceptionally important new book, Chasing the American Dream, Mark Rank shows how rising economic inequality has distorted the meaning of the American dream and circumscribed the opportunities of ordinary Americans. Rank combines interview and focus groups with the life history methodhe pioneered in earlier work to show the astonishing rate at which individuals move in and out of poverty and affluence and how initial advantages and disadvantages translate into patterns of cumulative inequality which define their lives. Written with exceptional clarity, illustrated with vividindividual stories, this book will engage scholars, students, and non-specialist readers who want to know what is happening to the elusive American dream." --Michael B. Katz, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, author of The Undeserving Poor: America's Enduring Confrontation with Poverty