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‘New American Dream’ shifts away from material gains, says study

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Results are in from a survey of over 2,000 Americans, sponsored by Ikea

The material accomplishments of owning a home, two cars, and generally "keeping up with the Joneses" once defined the aspirations of an entire generation of Americans. But in the aftermath of the Great Recession, the "American Dream" has dramatically shifted away from the acquisition of material goods and more toward experiences with family and friends, according to a new report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by Ikea.

Researchers surveyed 2,050 people from diverse backgrounds, socio-economic statuses, and regions of the United States to better understand the ways Americans are thinking about their hopes and ambitions.

The study found that more Americans define the American Dream as being free to live the life they choose, particularly when it comes to experiences, education, and social equity, rather than focusing on material milestones like home ownership. Roughly 57 percent of respondents consider the American Dream to be about quality of life while a mere 20 percent think of it on material terms.

But the shift in desires doesn’t mean that economics and material considerations are totally out of the picture. For one, 78 percent of respondents believe that a high cost of living is one of the major hurdles to achieving the American Dream, while 72 percent agree that college is no longer a sure ticket to upward mobility. Fewer than 42 percent of American believe it’s possible to retire comfortably. Check out the full report here.