Will you be richer than your parents?

AP US Government and Politics

What is the percent chance that you will be wealthier than your parents?

NY Times

AP US Government and Politics

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about this data?

  3. The phrase “American dream” was invented during the Great Depression. It comes from a popular 1931 book by the historian James Truslow Adams, who defined it as “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone.” Based on this chart and your knowledge of US history and politics, explain whether you think the American dream is dead:

  4. What is the big story this chart tells

  5. For much of the 20th century, since the end of the Great Depression, each generation of Americans was getting richer. Why do you think that was the case?

  6. And why do you think that expanding growth slowed down?

  7. What is one consequence of the decline of growth in wealth for the most recent generations?

  8. Many of the people of my generation, who were born in the 60s, expected to do better than our parents, and assumed we would have a materially comfortable life: owning cars and a house. We were, for the most part, correct. Do you think that most people of your generation, born around or since 2000,  expect to be richer than your parents?

  9. What are some material expectations (car/home ownership) that your generation has that are different from people were born a half century before? Maybe your generation won't be richer than your parents'. In what way will your generation be better off (happier, better fed, fitter) than your parents' generation?

  10. Do you personally think you will deviate from the trends shown in the chart?

  11. If you had to extrapolate from this data, what would you say would be the percent chance that someone born in 1990 would make more money than their parents?

  12. In 2000?

  13. In 2010?

  14. How much do you think the death of the American dream impacted the 2016 election?

  15. When Donald Trump says, "Make America Great again," is he partly saying: bring back the American dream?

  16. Describe one policy the US government has enacted that helps people achieve the American dream.

  17. Do you think Trump will bring back the American dream/make America great again?

  18. If you were to run for president in 2020, how much impact would this data and the idea of the dying American dream affect your campaign?


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I will be richer than my parents.

Learning Extension

Read the entire Upshot article about the American Dream.

Action Extension

It's survey time. Ask ten people born around 2000 if they think they will be richer than their parents. Crunch your data and share the information in class or online.

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