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    The American Dream And Economic Crisis

    By Margarita Nahapetyan

    The new MetLife Study of the American Dream found that 50 per cent of the population in the United States are presently just two paychecks away from not being able to meet their both ends meet in case of losing a job. In addition, of all the Americans, 28 per cent reported that they would not be able to financially survive for more than 2 weeks if not for the current job. Even the "mass affluent" - those individuals who are making more than $100,000 in income every year, reported not to be saving enough, with more than 29 per cent saying that they would not be able to meet their financial obligations for more than one month in case of a job loss.

    The 2009 third annual MetLife poll, that was released earlier this week, analyzed as to how the financial crisis has affected the American Dream and perceptions of the consumers. And what is even more worrying and disturbing, that unemployment in the United States increasingly climbs up, surging to more than 8 per cent at this point, with 651,000 jobs lost just in the past month. Following a job loss, 59 per cent of the respondents said that they would be very much concerned about having to file for bankruptcy and 64 per cent are afraid that they might have to give up their home. The MetLife survey has also found that three quarters of those who participated in the poll, have somehow been touched by unemployment as a result of the economic recession, with nearly 2 out of 10 reporting that they have lost a job in a recent time, and an additional 55 per cent having their friend, relative, or neighbor who is presently in the same situation.

    During the current state of economy, most of Americans are considering major changes in their lifestyle. Majority are now eating at home more often, which includes 66 per cent of all consumers, and 71 per cent of the representatives of Generation X. Many Americans also report doing less and more economic shopping now, with 39 per cent shifting to big box stores and 50 per cent switching from brand name products to generic ones. More than 81 per cent of the population now think that going on vacation is a luxury, up from 73 per cent in 2006. And in spite of the fact that many Americans still cannot imagine their lives without such material goods, as cars, washers, dryers, and access to the Internet, four out of every 10 individuals feel guilty about past purchases and spent money, wishing they did not spend that much and saved more in their accounts over the years.

    According to the study, the last year has not only had a great impact on the financial stability of America's population, it has also had a huge influence when it came to Americans to define and approach the American Dream. The results of the new study revealed that the American dream itself, defined by 66 per cent of the respondents as financial security, at present moment focuses much less on external factors such as stock market and home equity, but much more on personal relationships such as family, children and marriage. Forty-four per cent of Americans who took part in the poll, confirmed that the economic recession has forced them to reevaluate their life priorities and, therefore they have started being concerned more about their personal life and family rather than materialistic values.

    The majority of the respondents - 72 per cent this year compared to 67 per cent in November 2006 - still hope that they will be able to achieve the American dream in the long term, while 34 per cent reported that they have already had their dream come true. However, 49 per cent of the lucky ones are afraid that they might not be able to get hold of the dream. Another positive moment of the study results is that more than 8 individuals out of 10, which is 83 per cent of the population, still believe that America is the only country in the world to offer the greatest opportunities to anyone, despite of their backgrounds, to achieve their dreams, happiness and success.

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