By Edward Burghard
The power of the American Dream Composite Index research is found in understanding the 5 sub-indexes and 35 dimensions that comprise the ADCI.
The American Dream Economic sub-index measure resident satisfaction, freedom and progress with respect to their finances, job, home ownership and health care. It is developed from the following dimensions:
- Financial Security
- Material Prosperity
- Access to Education
- Destinations in Life
- Job Benefits
- Health Care
- Freedom of Choice
- Generational Progress
- Home Ownership
- Job Environment
This is the sub-index that would likely be impacted most directly by a resident’s ability to secure employment. Job attraction, retention and expansion tends to be the focus of most economic development professionals and elected officials. But, new job creation isn’t sufficient to enable all residents achieve their American Dream. In any state or community, there are large groups of residents where year-over-year job growth has no better than an indirect impact. For example, residents satisfied with their current employment do not see job growth as better enabling their American Dream. Nor do retirees (a growing segment of any state or community’s resident population). And, since many residents who are either unemployed or which to change employment are not necessarily qualified for the new jobs created in a location, the arithmetic would suggest a focus on job growth as a performance measure is evaluating the impact on only a single-digit percent of the resident population.
What Do The Data Tell You?
The ADCI data reflect the sentiment of residents. If you think about it, these are the people in the best position to assess how easy it is to achieve their American Dream, and as consequence their perspective is worth paying attention to. Resident sentiment is measured through a validated questionnaire. To produce the Report, the data collected from residents in each state throughout calendar 2013 have been compiled to create a 12-month snap shot. The intent of the Report is to help economic development professionals and elected officials better understand where the state might have opportunities to better enable residents to achieve their American Dream. This can be done by comparing one state’s dimension scores with other states that might be seen as competitive for capital investment or attraction of top talent. It is important to note the data inform HOW residents are feeling, but do not explain the sentiment drivers behind WHY they feel that way. Answering the WHY question requires additional local market research.
How Were The Sub-Indexes Determined?
In general, the Xavier University team did an exhaustive literature review along with both qualitative and quantitative market research to identify an initial list of dimensions that make up the American Dream. Questions or statements were generated to measure each dimension. Then two separate large-scale quantitative studies were used to statistically validate and refine the questionnaire. Finally, three nationally representative samples were used to validate the ADCI, and factor analysis was used to verify that each dimension was sound. The result of all this work was 35 dimensions that are grouped into five statistically sound and validated sub-indexes.
A more complete description of the process is available on the Xavier University website.
What Is Your State’s Ranking?
New Mexico is Ranked as the #1 State in the Nation for Economic Conditions That Enable Residents to Achieve Their American Dream.
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Note: The goal of the rankings is to educate readers about the American Dream and stimulate a conversation around how residents can be better enabled to achieve more of their American Dream. For purposes of State Rankings, the ADCI data is considered secondary data. The ADCI research hypothesis is to value the American Dream as a nation (all 50 states and DC together). Respondents self-identify their states (this is verified with PII data) every month, but this information is only used as a balancing item for state population strata based on the most recent census. The State Ranking is non-scientific and done as an illustrative piece by the Burghard Group for the purpose of educating leaders on the quality of life around the country. It is impossible to accurately measure the error rate given that neither a uniform nor standard rate is gathered from each state every month. Data is compiled for the year for each state and then evaluated. Readers of the Report are encouraged to check their state’s ADCI scores against relative Region scores and the national scores for a well balanced perspective on overall performance.