POLL: New American Dream Survey Report 2004

by New Dream   |   January 11, 2004

2004 Poll Final Report Cover

In September 2004, the Center for a New American Dream commissioned a Census-balanced and nationally representative poll of 1,269 American adults ages 18 years of age and older. The “New American Dream Poll” was conducted by Widmeyer Communications of Washington, D.C. The margin of error for the study is +/- 2.7%

The major findings of the study are:

  1. Americans say our society’s priorities are “out of whack,” with an overwhelming majority agreeing that as a society we are too focused on working and making money and not enough on family and community.
  2. The current definition of the American Dream does not adequately reflect the values Americans consider important. A re-definition of the American Dream is needed that places more importance on values that reflect quality of life and less importance on consuming, wealth, and national power.
  3. Most believe that the American Dream is getting harder to achieve and that few Americans will ever realize it. Americans point to two powerful trends that are impeding the American Dream: the high costs of healthcare, housing, and making ends meet; and excessive materialism and rising debt.
  4. Americans express concern about the excessive materialism of our culture and recognize that it has serious consequences for our society, the environment, and the world at large. They also worry about its impact on our children. Americans feel their lives are out of balance and many say they would be more satisfied if they had less stress and had more time with family and friends.
  5. Americans say that our lifestyle harms the global environment by producing too much waste and depleting natural resources. Most Americans recognize that we need to make changes in our daily lives and a significant percentage say they already have.
  6. Large majorities of Americans say they are willing to take action in their personal lives to reduce consumption and materialism. In fact, a large plurality of Americans state they are even willing to take difficult steps, such as driving less.
  7. Nearly half of all Americans say they have made VOLUNTARY changes in their lives that resulted in making less money. These Americans are happy with the changes they made and say that the major motivations for making less money are reducing stress, striking a balance in their lives, and having more free time.