The American Dream is in Trouble

These legos will tell you why

Washington, D.C. - This week on the DecodeDC podcast, we tackle one of the most powerful stories in American culture: the bootstraps myth. It's the story--often labeled 'the American Dream'--that says anyone, no matter the circumstances they're born into, can rise up the economic ladder. 

For the show we wanted to answer two questions: First, how likely is it really for someone born into poverty to end up in the top income group? And second, if it isn't as common as we think, why does it seem like every elected official out there has a bootstraps story to share? 

A person who is doing fascinating work on this topic is Brookings Institution economist Richard Reeves. And one of the great things he's done to explain the story is make a video that explains just how easy it is to predict the life outcomes of those born into poverty in the U.S. And where on the economic ladder any socio-economic group is likely to end up.

Join in our conversation about economic mobility and the American Dream. Listen to the podcast by visiting the DecodeDC iTunes page, and then tweet your thoughts to us @DecodeDC

Want to keep up with all the latest DecodeDC stories and podcasts? Sign up for our weekly newsletter at


Print this article Back to Top