American Dream no Longer Relevant According to New Study

During the late 1800’s Horatio Alger wrote over 100 books that helped articulate to the world his view of the American Dream. In his books, the poor were able to rise from poverty and achieve incredible wealth through hard work, creativity and mentoring. To many, the American Dream was the reason why so many immigrants in the mid-1800’s risked life and limb to reach America’s shores. Many adherents to Alger’s view believe the American Dream is one of the reasons America has the largest economy in the world at $15.3 trillion. Many believe it is the reason why America has so many billionaires (422 vs China 66, Russia 65, Germany 57 and India 52).

Thanks to Mr. Alger many Americans, rich or poor, agreed on one thing – the American Dream represented unlimited opportunity and the ability to rise from abject poverty to wealth in one or more generations.

But not any more. The definition of the American Dream is changing. Based on a study by the Rich Habits Institute there are differences the size of the Grand Canyon in the way the rich and the poor view the American Dream. Here are some examples from the study:

  • 87% of the poor believe unlimited opportunity is no longer possible in America. 98% of the wealthy believe unlimited opportunity still exists in America
  • 79% of the poor believe government should do more to help people financially. 91% of the wealthy believe the government does too much to help people financially
  • 80% of the poor believe unlimited wealth is not what the American Dream is about. 94% of the wealthy believe the opportunity for unlimited wealth is fundamental to the American Dream
  • 51% of the poor believe the American Dream is about owning a home. 95% of the wealthy believe the American Dream means much more than home ownership
  • 52% of the poor believe it is more important to live now and not put things off. 72% of the wealthy believe a key to wealth is delayed gratification
  • 79% of the poor believe wealth comes from random good luck. Just 8% of the wealthy share this view
  • 13% of the poor believed they would be financially successful in life. 43% of the wealthy believed they would be financially successful in life
  • 82% of the poor believe they are not responsible for their financial situation. 70% of the wealthy believe they are responsible for their financial situation.
  • 90% of the poor believe most wealthy people inherit their wealth. Only 5% of the wealthy share this view
  • 5% of the poor believe wealthy people are good, honest, hardworking people. 78% of the wealthy share this view
  • 3% of the poor consider the wealthy frugal. 60% of the wealthy consider wealthy people to be frugal
  • 90% of the poor consider wealthy people greedy. Just 3% of the wealthy share this view
  • 87% of the poor believe the wealthy should pay more tax. 97% of the wealthy believe they pay too much tax
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Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley understands the difference between being rich and poor: at age nine, his family went from being multi-millionaires to broke in just one night, due to a catastrophic fire that destroyed his Dad's thriving business. For fourteen years they struggled with poverty. There were eleven in Tom's family, and they lived in constant fear of losing their home.

Driven by the desire to unlock the secrets to success and failure, Tom spent five years studying the daily activities of 233 rich people and 128 poor people. He discovered there was an immense difference between the habits of the rich and the poor. During his research he identified over 300 daily activities that separated the “haves” from the “have nots.” Tom decided to write a book to share what he learned. That book, Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals (1st Edition), went on to become an Amazon Bestseller in the United States forty times over a three year period. To give you some perspective, in order to be a true Amazon Bestseller in the United States, where you actually receive a specific Bestseller designation from Amazon, you need to be in the top 100 of all books sold by Amazon in the United States in a given day. Rich Habits did that for nearly thirty straight days, rising as high as #7, eclipsing such Bestselling authors such as Stephen Covey, Robert Kiyosaki and J.K. Rowlings. Imagine that - an unknown, first-time, self-published author selling more books than J.K. Rowlings!

Tom now travels the world, sharing his Rich Habits and motivating audiences at industry conferences, corporate events, universities, multi-level marketing group events, and global sales organizations’ presentations and finance conferences. He has even spoken on the same stage with famous entrepreneurs and personal development experts, such as Sir Richard Branson, Robin Sharma, Dr. Daniel Amen, and many others.

Tom has shared his insights on various national and international network, cable, and Internet television programs such as CBS Evening News, NBC News, Yahoo Financially Fit,, India TV, Australia, and a host of others. He has been interviewed on many prestigious nationally syndicated radio shows, including the Dave Ramsey Show, Marketplace Money, and WABC.

Tom has been featured in numerous print magazines—such as Money magazine, Inc. Magazine, SUCCESS Magazine, Entrepreneur magazine, Fast Company magazine, More magazine, Epoca Magazine (Brazil’s largest weekly) and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine—and various online publications, including USA Today, CNN, MSN Money,,, and the Huffington Post. Tom is a frequent contributor to Business Insider,, and a few other media outlets.

National publicity has garnered international media attention for Tom and his Rich Habits research spanning 23 countries. Broadcast media, online publications, and television throughout Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the United Kingdom, and Central and South America have shared his powerful message.

In an effort to help parents, grandparents, teachers and adults become success mentors to the younger generation, Tom released his second book, Rich Kids: How to Raise Our Children to be Happy and Successful in Life in 2014. This book was the self-help category winner of the 2015 New York Book Festival and Runner-up in the prestigious 2015 Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards Contest. In 2016 Tom released his third book, Change Your Habits, Change Your Life. This book provides the latest science on habit change as well as more of Tom's unique research on the specific habits that helped transform 177 ordinary individuals into self-made millionaires.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, and hold a master’s degree in taxation. As president of Cerefice and Company, CPAs, Tom heads one of the premier financial firms in New Jersey.
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
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  1. So many powerful statements here!

    Belief is the foundation, I would say, to success. Personal transformation starts with belief, adopting sound principles, and putting into action good habits. So the formula could simply be expressed as Faith + Action + Consistency = Success

    As I digest these data points, I am reminded of the old story of the two fishermen. Both were unable to catch fish for days so money was tight and they were hungry. One fisherman was given a bountiful catch which he benefited from for weeks. The other was taught the secrets of fishing and experienced abundance the rest of his life.

    The abundance mentality is empowering. When you believe there is hope and opportunity regardless of adversity and circumstances, you will see positive things and reap positive things at every turn. There is ni doubt some are met with more bad luck than others but those with the right mindset use bad luck to innovate and persevere. They grow stronger and smarter, rather than making more excuses.

    I also feel the material definition of wealth is what cripples so many and breeds poverty habits. Like you say in your book, it’s about living within your means and delaying gratification now for better things later. I work hard to teach my family these principles. I exercise “not now” often for passing whims and unnecessary things. My kids may not like it much now but one day they will see it paved the way to a better, more sustainable future for everyone.

    Thanks for everything, Tom!

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