Can You Measure The American Dream?

Three professors in Ohio have created a new index to capture something that seems subjective, highly relative and maybe even mythical: The American Dream.

The professors, at Xavier University in Cincinnati, say their American Dream Composite Index is based on 35 sentiments that amount to a highly comprehensive look at what makes people feel happy, successful and productive.

In the survey, people across a host of demographic groups are asked each month about financial security, access to education, trust in government, and other factors that measure how close they feel they are to reaching their goals. The first survey was conducted in July 2011, but with each new month of data, the authors realized their work had larger ramifications.

“When we created it, we just wanted to have a measure of the American Dream,” saidAmit Sen, who teaches economics. “What we quickly realized is that what we were building was something that was very unique, but that you could think of as a quality of life index.”

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