NEW YORK — More than half of Americans believe today’s youth are unlikely to have a better life than their parents, according to a new poll from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and the Associated Press NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Most of the people polled said that having a family and owning a home is important to them, but more than half believe that achieving these goals will be more difficult than their parents’ generation. I answered. This is especially true for younger generations, with about seven in 10 Americans under the age of 30 believing owning a home is getting harder.
About half of those surveyed said they find it difficult to improve their living standards, citing both economic and structural factors.
Josean Cano, 39, a Hispanic Chicago bus operator, said he struggled more financially than his parents. He cited inflation, high housing costs and the recent shortage of baby formula as examples.
“Things have doubled, tripled in price,” he said. “We’re not talking about gym shoes or concert tickets. We’re talking about essentials. Six months ago, you couldn’t find PediaSure. It would be $20. It used to be $11 at Target.”
Kano also pointed to the fact that the real purchasing power of the minimum wage was higher in previous generations, and that rent and education costs were more reasonable.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, the federal minimum wage in 2021 will be 34% lower than it was in 1968, when purchasing power peaked.
“Many people feel their options are fewer than they have been in the past,” said Stephen Derlauf, a professor at the University of Chicago who has studied inequality and helped build the study. “A lot of happiness has to do with relative status, not absolute status.”
The study also showed striking partisan disagreement about whether structural factors contribute to social mobility.
Democrats were more likely than Republicans to say that factors such as parental wealth, community of residence, college education, race and ethnicity, and gender had a greater impact on social mobility. Black and Hispanic adults were more likely than white adults to say college education, race, ethnicity, and gender were very important factors.
Acacia Barraza, 35, who lives in Las Lunas, New Mexico, and works as an employee services coordinator, said she was more optimistic about social mobility among Hispanic Americans before the election of former President Donald Trump. Barraza is Hispanic and Native American.
“Before, you would have thought we were making progress,” she said. “So that we can have more and be more.
Barraza said both she and her husband have student loans, making it more difficult to support a family and buy a home.
According to Department of Education data, the average student loan debt has risen for all generations, reaching all-time highs. 49% of her adults under 30 with a bachelor’s degree or higher have student loan debt. Federal borrowers under the age of 24 average $14,434, ages 25 to 34 have an average federal debt of $33,570, and ages 35 to 49 have an average federal debt of $43,208.
Mark Cluffey, 52, a disabled white man from Logan, Ohio, said “everything costs more” than his parents’ generation.
“At the time, you could build something with a limited budget,” he said. “You can do more with less. A loaf of bread costs less than a dollar.”
Now, Claffey says he and his wife found themselves under pressure on their bond budgets at the end of the month. He also believes the country is more divided and polarized along partisan lines than in previous times.
A study found that Americans over the age of 60 are more likely than younger people to believe that achieving a standard of living is easier than their parents.
Only 35% of adults aged 60 and over say it is “very or somewhat difficult” to achieve a good standard of living, compared to 54% of adults aged 18-29.
The poll also found that black Americans had a more positive outlook on future generational upward migration than white Americans.
Glenn McDaniel, a 70-year-old poll respondent who is black and works as a scientist at the Institute of Medicine in Atlanta, expressed “some degree of optimism” about prospects for improving living standards for future generations. said to have I didn’t read it in a book. “
“I have seen a lot of history through these eyes,” he said. “There was a time when it seemed impossible for even someone who looked like me to go to college. Or will I be harassed? It’s unbelievable to think that it happened in my lifetime.”
McDaniel said his mother went to college but dropped out and went to the University of Toronto. He also said that seeing technological progress contributes to his feeling that future generations might benefit.
McDaniel added that his optimism is “a little constrained by the current political climate.”
“There is still a trend of people coming out from under rocks, driven by their worst fears,” he said. “It’s not as blatant as it was when I was a kid. But it’s still part of the American psyche.”