American Dream


DEFINITION of 'American Dream'

The belief that anyone, regardless of where they were born or what class they were born into, can attain their own version of success in a society where upward mobility is possible for everyone. The American dream is achieved through sacrifice, risk-taking and hard work, not by chance. Both native-born Americans and American immigrants pursue and can achieve the American dream. In contrast to other political and economic systems, such as communist dictatorships, America’s free-enterprise system makes possible the circumstances that allow individuals to go beyond meeting their basic needs to achieve self-actualization and personal fulfillment.

BREAKING DOWN 'American Dream'

The tenets of the American dream can be found in the Declaration of Independence, which states, “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.” In a society based on these principles, an individual can live life to its fullest as he or she defines it.
The American dream requires political and economic freedom as well as rules of law and private property rights. Without them, individuals cannot make the choices that will permit them to attain success, nor can they have confidence that their achievements will not be taken away from them through arbitrary force.
The American dream offers the freedom to make both the large and small decisions that affect one’s life; the freedom to aspire to bigger and better things and the possibility of achieving them; the freedom to accumulate wealth; the opportunity to lead a dignified life; and the freedom to live in accordance with one’s values, even if those values are not widely held or accepted.
Home ownership is frequently cited as an example of attaining the American dream. It is a symbol of financial success and independence, and it means having the ability to control one’s own piece of property instead of being subjected to the whims of a landlord. Owning one’s own business and being one’s own boss also represent American dream fulfillment.
  1. American Opportunity Tax Credit

    A tax credit that enabled more student and parents to pay for ...
  2. American Academy Of Financial Management ...

    A globally-recognized academic institution that issues a variety ...
  3. American Rule

    A rule in law and economics that says attorney fees should be ...
  4. American Clean Energy And Security ...

    A piece of legislation that was created in an attempt to establish ...
  5. American Recovery And Reinvestment ...

    An act initiated and signed by U.S. President Barack Obama in ...
  6. Alliance Of American Insurers - ...

    A coalition consisting primarily of property-casualty insurance ...
Related Articles
  1. Economics

    3 Notorious American White Collar Criminals

    Learn about the crimes and punishments of some of the most infamous convicted white-collar crooks.
  2. Retirement

    4 Reasons Why Americans Retire in Costa Rica

    Understand why more and more Americans are deciding to retire in developing countries. Learn about the top five reasons why Americans retire to Costa Rica.
  3. Retirement

    The 5% Solution To Financial Freedom

    How can you save the recommended 10% of your income? We'll show you how to get there.
  4. Options & Futures

    American Vs. European Options

    These two options have many similar characteristics, but it's the differences that are important.
  5. Personal Finance

    Is It Foolish To Strive For The American Dream?

    Even Jay Gatsby's stubborn optimism in The Great Gatsby would be hard pressed to believe that rags-to-riches stories are possible in today's economy. Find out why the ever-increasing wealth gap ...
  6. Personal Finance

    Can Financial Education Rebuild America’s Economy?

    Find out why financial education will help America to re-establish itself as the world's (undisputed) leading economy.
  7. Home & Auto

    Redefining The American Dream

    Here is a realistic look at the "American Dream," based on your potential instead of an impossible ideal.
  8. Retirement

    What's The Difference Between Retiring In Canada And America?

    American and Canadian governments provide many of the same types of services, but the subtle differences between the two countries are worth noting.
  9. Credit & Loans

    Deleveraging: What It Means To Corporate America

    Getting rid of debt is usually a good thing, but companies can also use it to become more profitable.
  10. Economics

    Do Cheap Imported Goods Cost Americans Jobs?

    Flooding the market with cheap products can mean job losses and even market collapse - but dumping isn't as threatening as it seems.
  1. How was the American Dream impacted by the housing market collapse in 2008?

    The American Dream was seriously damaged by the housing market collapse in 2008. In many ways, the American Dream is a self-fulfilling ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What does the American Dream mean to different generations?

    The American Dream at its core is the belief that every generation should enjoy greater prosperity than the generation before ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What is the expense ratio in the insurance industry?

    The expense ratio in the insurance industry is a measure of profitability calculated by dividing the expenses associated ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What is the benefit of the Modified Internal Rate Of Return (MIRR)?

    The modified internal rate of return (MIRR) is a financing metric used in business capital budgeting. Its primary benefit ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Why is the Modified Internal Rate Of Return (MIRR) preferable to the regular internal ...

    Even though the internal rate of return metric is popular among business managers, it tends to overstate the profitability ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Who sets the guidelines for accounting principles?

    While the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) are not a strict requirement of all U.S. corporations, the guidelines ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Take A Bath

    A slang term referring to the situation of an investor who has experienced a large loss from an investment or speculative ...
  2. Black Friday

    1. A day of stock market catastrophe. Originally, September 24, 1869, was deemed Black Friday. The crash was sparked by gold ...
  3. Turkey

    Slang for an investment that yields disappointing results or turns out worse than expected. Failed business deals, securities ...
  4. Barefoot Pilgrim

    A slang term for an unsophisticated investor who loses all of his or her wealth by trading equities in the stock market. ...
  5. Quick Ratio

    The quick ratio is an indicator of a company’s short-term liquidity. The quick ratio measures a company’s ability to meet ...
  6. Black Tuesday

    October 29, 1929, when the DJIA fell 12% - one of the largest one-day drops in stock market history. More than 16 million ...
Trading Center