America has long prided itself on being the nation of opportunity. The “American Dream” is characterized as the ability to work hard and get ahead no matter your background. But what if the opportunity to get ahead in life is no longer accessible to all? Is the American Dream just that—a dream—with no grounding in reality? What does opportunity look like in the US today?

Nathan Gamester, Programme Director to the Legatum Prosperity Index, gave a presentation of findings from the 2014 Index. His presentation was followed by a panel discussion on the subject of opportunity and prosperity in the US.

The distinguished panellists included Carol Graham, Leo Pasvolsky Senior Fellow, Global Economy and Development, Brookings Global – CERES Economic and Social Policy in Latin America Initiative, John Prideaux, Washington Correspondent, The EconomistRichard Reeves, Fellow, Economic Studies; Policy Director, Center on Children and Families; and Charles Murray, W. H. Brady Scholar, American Enterprise Institute.

The discussion and subsequent Q&A considered various aspects of opportunity; Carol Graham posited that “two Americas” exist, one in which people have good access to opportunities and are able to plan for the future, and one in which people are trapped in poor circumstances without access to opportunity.

Charles Murray suggested that today’s America does provide opportunities for people who are willing to start from the bottom and work hard.

Perhaps the most interesting question that came out of the panel discussion and which prompted much debate was raised by John Prideaux: what goes a good, unequal society look like?

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Further Reading

  • Legatum Prosperity Index - View