Where Can You Most Easily Achieve The American Dream?

Ed Burghard“All of us do not have equal talents, but all of us should have an equal opportunity to develop our talents”

One way I like to look at data is to evaluate the extremes and look for patterns.  To that end, I have color coded the Top 10 (Green) and Bottom 10 (Red) states based on their 2012 American Dream Composite Index score.

How is The ADCI™ Calculated?

Recall, the ADCI™ (powered by dunnhumby) quantifies the degree to which residents of a location feel they are achieving the American Dream.  The ADCI™ survey is based on research into the American Dream conducted by a team at Xavier University.  The statistically validated survey presents respondents with 139 statements related to various aspects of the American Dream.  Responses are presented as 35 dimensions that make up the ADCI™.

The 35 dimensions are reported out as the following 5 sub-indexes to help make interpretation easier.

Economic Indexmeasures one’s satisfaction, freedom and progress with respect to their finances, job, home ownership and health care.

Well-Being Indexmeasures the extent of one’s contentment, health and prosperity in life.

Societal Indexmeasures the extent to which the government, businesses and people are fair and trustworthy.

Diversity Indexmeasures the attitudes toward the assimilation of differences in one’s community.

Environmental Indexmeasures the extent of pollution in the air, food, water and land that one encounters on a regular basis.

An even deeper understanding is provided on the Xavier University ADCI™ website, and I encourage you to review it when you have a minute.

What Does The ADCI™ Score Really Mean?

The ADCI™ score indicates the degree to which residents feel they are achieving the American Dream.  Residents living in states with higher ADCI scores reflect the fact feel they are achieving the American Dream to a higher degree than residents living in states with lower ADCI™ scores do.  The data tell you HOW residents are feeling.  To determine WHY residents feel they way they do, secondary research is required.

I look at the rankings and conclude Montana (ranked #1) is doing the best job enabling residents to achieve their American Dream.  Vermont (rated last) has significant room for improvement.

Importantly, when Executives were asked if they wanted to know the ADCI™ score for locations where they do business and their employees live, the response was overwhelmingly affirmative.  Even more important, when asked if they would consider moving operations to a location with a lower ADCI™ score in exchange for special incentives, roughly 1/3rd indicated they would not.  These data suggest that, if available, a location’s ADCI™ score will be an important differentiator when a final site decision is to be made.

For 2012, the data is only available at the national and state level.  But, Xavier University is continuing work to make the data available at an MSA level.  I am hopeful they will be successful and make 2013 data available at the national, state and MSA levels.  When this happens, executives will have a new way to base their final site selection decision.

For a more complete understanding, download the FREE 2012 American Dream State Ranking Report.  The states are ranked by ADCI™ and each of the sub-indexes.

DISCUSSION – Which States Are Doing Well?

I thought it would be interesting to try and determine if any explanatory patterns might be discerned from mapping the Top 10 ADCI™ scoring and Bottom 10 scoring states.  Here is a look at the map (click on it to enlarge).

Top 10 Bottom 10

You will note there is some clustering.  At this point though, I do not have a sense for whether there is a common root cause that links the Top 10 together and the Bottom 10 together.   I would be very interested in any hypotheses you might offer.  Hopefully it will be fun, and educational to brainstorm this as an economic development community.

I look forward to your thoughts.  Please leave a comment below.

Read About My Journey To Learn More About The American Dream

American Dream Case Study Series

Indiana versus Michigan

Florida versus North Carolina

New York versus New Jersey

California versus Texas

Pennsylvania versus New York

North Carolina versus Texas

Ohio versus Michigan

How Easy Is It To Achieve The American Dream In Your State?

To view the complete set of State rankings based on the ADCI and five explanatory sub-indexes, simply click this button

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