Despite the narrative, very popular in this election cycle, that Americans are having trouble getting ahead, Hispanics and Asians in the United States still believe in the basic premise of the American Dream—that anyone who works hard still has a fair chance to succeed and live a comfortable life.
This optimism is felt by over half of Hispanic and Asian respondents in an Atlantic Media/Pearson Opportunity Poll released on Tuesday. Most white and black respondents, however, said it is difficult for the average person to get ahead in an economy that mostly rewards the rich. Across all of the demographic groups polled, just 44 percent of respondents said that hard work can lead to a fair shot at success.
So, where is this confidence from Hispanics and Asians coming from? In part, it’s tied to the fact that new arrivals have so many recent immigrants with similar backgrounds to lean on and consult, says Patricia Pérez, an associate professor of Chicana and Chicano studies at California State University, Fullerton. About 70 percent of immigrants currently living in the U.S. are either Asian or Hispanic, and that will remain the case for the next 50 years, according to the Pew Research Center. And those people who have immigrated in recent years are observing in their peer groups the success that comes in the generations that follow. Further Pew data shows that the U.S.-born children of immigrants are more likely than their parents to own a home, have a college degree, and have a higher annual median household income. Seeing this success is likely shaping Hispanic and Asian beliefs about social mobility.