Should You Believe the American Dream is Real?

As best-selling author and YouTube personality John Green examines in this video, the American dream remains uniquely American in one sense: "we are far more likely to believe that people are rewarded for intelligence and skill. And we're less likely to believe that coming from a wealthy family is key to getting ahead."

Both, unfortunately, are far from the truth.

Americans now face the highest degree of income inequality since 1928. The house you are born into is much more likely to dictate your socioeconomic status than just about anything else. 62% of Americans born into the bottom fifth of incomes will remain there.

It's also increasingly difficult to escape poverty. According to the Economic Policy Institute, half the jobs in the nation pay under than $34,000 a year. 

A study by the Pew Charitable Trusts found that the economic segregation of neighborhoods also affects mobility; in particular, urban areas with distinctly separate wealthy and poorer sections had lower levels of success among the underprivileged. This makes sense - with no peers or neighbors to serve as examples of a different lifestyle, people living in areas of concentrated poverty have little reason to believe that their actions can impact their lot in life. 

The solution? It's not so simple. As John Green says, regulations and re-distributive tax policies might help. The same is true for improving K-12 education, enhancing nutrition and health care, increasing access to mentors, and finally, raising wages.

A prevailing issue in the 2014 midterm elections is whether to raise the minimum wage. If you'd like to add your name in support, click here