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The American Dream Is Not Dead: A Book Event with Michael R. Strain

American Enterprise Institute

February 27, 2020

Event Summary

On Thursday, AEI’s Michael R. Strain presented an overview of his book “The American Dream Is Not Dead: (But Populism Could Kill It)” (Templeton Press, 2020).

In his opening presentation, Dr. Strain emphasized that the American dream still remains available to Americans despite populist agitations that suggest the opposite. In making his case, he presented data from his book that show that typical workers have experienced consistent wage growth over the past three decades, quality of life continues to improve for all Americans, and the United States remains a dynamic and upwardly mobile society.

Following Dr. Strain’s remarks, Richard V. Reeves of the Brookings Institution offered thoughtful pushback to some of Dr. Strain’s main points, while concurring that much of the elegiac rhetoric about the American dream is overstated.

The event concluded with an informal panel discussion among Dr. Strain, Dr. Reeves, and AEI’s Yuval Levin.

— John Towey

Event Description

Politicians from both parties frequently argue that the American dream is in peril. They claim that hard work does not pay off, wages have been stagnant for decades, the middle class is shrinking, the US is no longer upwardly mobile, and the game is rigged. Behind these concerns is the populist frustration that some “other” — the elites, the rich, immigrants, or China — is to blame for today’s economic outcomes.

In “The American Dream Is Not Dead: (But Populism Could Kill It)” (Templeton Press, 2020), AEI’s Michael R. Strain argues against this assessment. He uses persuasive, underreported evidence to prove that the American dream is alive and well.

Please join AEI for a discussion with Dr. Strain on the economic evidence in favor of the American dream and why we must reject populist rhetoric.