Gallup: US No Longer Seen as Land of Opportunity

Friday, 01 Nov 2013 08:59 AM

By Michael Kling

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Fewer Americans see the United States as the having "plenty of opportunity" to get ahead, a new Gallup poll reveals.

Just 52 percent — the lowest on record ‚ of the approximately 1,000 adults polled say America has plenty of economic opportunity, down from 57 percent in 2011 and 81 percent in 1998.

Plus, almost half say future generations will enjoy less economic opportunity than the current generation does.

Editor’s Note:
5 Phases of a ‘Retirement Heist’ Exposed (See Video)

"Many political leaders and other observers believe economic mobility in the United States is declining," Gallup researchers say. "It would appear that a significant portion of the population agrees."

The survey highlights an ongoing trend of Americans' perceptions of their ability to get ahead and the fairness of their economic system.

The United States has prided itself for permitting economic mobility for years. Rags to riches have long been common and cherished. However, growing income inequality and high unemployment rates have called into question that faith in economic opportunity.

Only half of Americans agree with the statement, "The economic system in the United States is basically fair, since all Americans have an equal opportunity to succeed," while 44 percent believe it as basically unfair and lacking that kind of opportunity.

By comparison, in 1998 almost seven in 10 Americans perceived the economic system as fair.

Party affiliation greatly influences perception about fairness. Republicans are most likely to say the economy as basically fair, while Democrats are the least likely to say it's fair.

Democrats are the more likely to have lost faith in the ability to improve their economic lot, with a 20-percentage-point drop, compared with losses of 16 points among independents and 14 points among Republicans.

Upward mobility showed a modest improvement from 2011 to 2013, according to 2013 Opportunity Index from Opportunity Nation, a group of businesses and nonprofits working to expand economic opportunity.

Still, the ZIP code where a person is born largely determines chances of success. Low-income children born in Canada and a dozen European countries stand a better chance of improving their lot in life than do low-income children born in the United States, the group says.

"The data discredits the widely held belief that Americans have equal opportunities across the country to climb the proverbial economic ladder," said Mark Edwards, executive director of Opportunity Nation.

The index considers 16 factors — such as unemployment and poverty rates, preschool enrollment, high school graduation rates, access to healthy food and safe neighborhoods — that impede or improve chances for economic success.

Editor’s Note: 5 Phases of a ‘Retirement Heist’ Exposed (See Video)

Related Stories:

Stiglitz: US No Longer the ‘Land of Opportunity’

UK Telegraph: US Is Now an ‘Old World Country’

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