Northwestern Mutual study documents the new ‘American Reality’

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 10:05 am

Most Americans, age 25 and up, are realistic about the serious financial challenges ahead, but they remain optimistic about the future, according to "The American Reality Study."

Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. recently commissioned the independent research firm Mathew Greenwald & Associates to conduct the study.

According to the study, the traditional notion of the "American Dream" has shifted, and Americans have defined a new "American Reality." According to the results, more people today are measuring success by the success of family units. Quality of life, including work-life balance, is increasingly more important than career, money and material possessions, the study says.

Middle adulthood is now considered the "Golden Years" of life.

"What we’re seeing very clearly from this research is that the ‘personal balance sheet’ is considered the primary yardstick for success," said Greg Oberland, executive vice president of insurance and technology for Milwaukee-based Northwestern Mutual. "The go-go days of materialism are over. Even the classic image of the American Dream – a home of one’s own with a white picket fence – is outdated."

Participants in The American Reality Study were asked to select the 10 attributes that best fit their definition of "success." Spending quality time with family, being a good parent, having a good relationship with a spouse or a partner, being healthy and having a good work life balance topped the list. Material items such as owning a house or having a high income fell at the bottom of the list.

Northwestern Mutual sponsored the study to provide insight into how Americans are handling the economic, political and social changes taking place in the nation. The study was conducted online with a sampling of 1,000 Americans. To view the full study, click here.

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