What happened to the ‘American dream’?

Here’s a depressing fact: it takes longer to travel from Boston to Los Angeles today than it did 50 years ago. Getting to the airport, getting through the airport, the flight itself — just about every part of the process takes longer than it once did.  

According to New York Times senior writer David Leonhardt, this is just one example of the stagnation defining so many aspects of America’s society and economy today. From life expectancy to education outcomes to rates of income inequality, by so many measures, American society simply isn’t improving for as many Americans as rapidly as it once did. By some measures, it’s not improving at all.

In other words: the American dream is increasingly out of reach. 

Leonhardt’s newest book, “Ours Was the Shining Future: The Story of the American Dream,” explores the data and the history behind this dimming of the American dream. This spring, he came to the Watson Institute to discuss the book with Jeff Colgan, director of the Watson Institute’s Climate Solutions Lab. In this episode of Trending Globally, Colgan talks with Leonhardt about the cultural and political shifts that have contributed to this change, and about what needs to be done to make widespread prosperity attainable in the decades to come. 

Learn more about and purchase “Ours Was the Shining Future: The Story of the American Dream

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About the Podcast

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Trending Globally: Politics and Policy
The Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

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Dan Richards

Host and Senior Producer, Trending Globally