The American Dream Seen Through Senior Eyes

Age isn’t important unless you’re cheese. As you grow older, you stand for more and fall for less.

How Are Seniors (age 65+) Feeling About the American Dream?

I understand that being old can sound stressful. The machinery you use daily would require constant repair from pelican professionals, and you won’t be able to eat everything you like. I will admit having been born in the 50’s I have a personal interest in the viewpoint of “seniors”. But, seniors also have the benefit of life experience and their perspective can hold valuable insight worth taking the time to understand.

In this post, I share some data on how seniors feel about the degree to which they are achieving their American Dream. In this case, a 104 index should be read as “seniors feel 4 percentage points better than national average regarding the degree to which they are achieving this dimension of the American Dream.”

For perspective, the data comes from Xavier University’s American Dream Composite Index Study (ADCI). The ADCI is the first and only statistically validated quantification of the American Dream. The study is national in scope. Xavier University has provided me a three-year aggregate data set for purposes of ad hoc post analysis. I have opted to share the list of dimensions with a positive index versus national average, but am not able to calculate the statistical significance of each index. Consequently, the data should be interpreted accordingly.

To date, I have provided a state specific look at these data for several states. I think a good use of these data is to identify where residents of a state feel they are under achieving on specific dimensions versus national average as a process for better understanding opportunities for improvement. It is my belief elected officials and economic development professionals can use this process to guide decisions on capital investment, infrastructure improvement and public policy/program support. If you have an interest, I would encourage you to take a minute and skim these posts.


Here are the dimensions seniors are feeling they are achieving to a numerically higher degree than national average. The ADCI is comprised of 35 statistically unique dimensions. Based on these data, seniors feel better about 26 of the 35.

  • Freedom of Expression   104
  • Family Support   104
  • Generational Progress   111
  • Leisure   104
  • Job Environment   103
  • Material Prosperity   111
  • Optimism   106
  • Social Status   107
  • Environment   112
  • Freedom of Choice   108
  • Support of Friends   105
  • Fruits of Labor   106
  • Support of Someone Special   106
  • Happiness   108
  • Personal Health   103
  • Trust in People   106
  • Job Benefits   109
  • Health Care   115
  • Home Ownership   107
  • Satisfaction with Residence   111
  • Acceptance of Diversity in Neighborhood   104
  • Destination in Life   110
  • Safe Community   106
  • Political Freedom   106
  • Access to Education   111
  • Financial Security   113


It is interesting seniors feel so good about the degree to which they are achieving their American Dream. One of the things the Xavier University Team shared with me is that your personal relationship with the American Dream changes over time.   As I think of my own situation, I can remember when I graduated from college having enough money in my pocket to fund a Friday night data was “living the dream”. But, after I married and started a family my personal relationship with the American Dream changed. A number of the dimensions began to be more important in my life. Now I am in the fall of my life, the importance level I affix to each dimension are shifting yet again.

On the surface, I know the above sounds a bit complex. But, in reality it is no different than attribute analyses routinely used by brand managers to better understand consumer perception. In this type of research you seek to determine 1) what are the attributes that drive consumer choice and 2) what is the relative importance of each. Brand managers often prioritize investment/attention to impact attributes considered to be strong drivers. There is a lot written in marketing literature describing how to conduct attribute analyses.

Importantly, I have no insight into the drivers for why seniors feel the way they do. Understanding these drivers would be important before defining any action steps. I find it comforting though that seniors do feel good. It is an optimistic story. Absent a better storyline, I am inclined to stick with this one. But, if you do have insight from other studies (or an opinion) as to why, please share it by providing a comment.

I hope you find these data interesting. Thank you in advance for sharing this post with anybody in your network you feel might benefit.

Senior citizens might need some assistance and home care in case some serious health issues occur. Home Caring – Sydney Office is ready to provide NDIS support. Visit their website to get acquainted with senior care options in more detail.

As baby boomers continue to retire in record numbers — a group that includes my own parents — more and more of us will face the question of how to handle their changing health needs. However, many of us will also face an even more urgent request from our parents themselves: “Please don’t put me in a home.” Home care systems offers dementia & Alzheimers caregiving services which are essential for most.

The problem is this: when Dad and Mom start to need more daily care, it can put pressure on caregivers and strain relationships in the family.

Where is it easiest to achieve the American Dream?

Check out the Site Selection article that ranks all states and major MSAs based on the degree to which their residents perceive they are achieving their American Dream.  You will be able to see the performing states/MSAs for each dimension of the American Dream and overall.  Special thanks to Site Selection Magazine for their continuing support in helping bring these data to economic development professionals, elected officials and anybody else with an interest in better understanding the American Dream.

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