In a recent study done by MetLife on the American Dream, more Asian Americans were the most optimistic in their responses than any other ethnic group. Almost half (47%) of Asian Americans believe that their personal situation will improve in 2010 over 2009 versus 35% of the general population.
In the study, 34% of Asian Americans (and Americans in general) believe they have attained the American Dream. And, of the Asian Americans who report that they have not yet achieved the dream, 89% believe that it’s still possible in their lifetime compared with 70% of Americans overall. Among those who say they have already achieved the dream, Asian Americans are less worried than their peers (38% vs. 47% of the general population) about their ability to sustain it.
What makes Asian Americans more optimistic than the rest of the population? More after the break.
From the Asian Journal:
Several factors fuel this optimism, including a strong belief in their future. “Like the general population, most Asian Americans believe that a full economic recovery is still three or more years away,” notes John Derbick, senior vice president, Global Brand and Marketing Services, MetLife. “Despite this, they are still more optimistic than the overall population about their personal financial situation, possibly due to the personal safety nets they’ve put in place prior to the market downturn.”
Many Asian Americans report relatively strong sources of personal income and protection. While only 31% of the general public describes their current personal safety net (a “cash cushion,” retirement savings as well as auto, health, home and life insurance) as “adequate,” the percentage climbs to more than half (54%) of Asian Americans. Further, while almost half (47%) of Americans have credit card debt that they don’t pay off in full each month, less than 33% of Asian Americans say the same.
So it appears the study is saying that Asian Americans are better at managing their finances, and feel more secure financially because of it. Because of this, it also appears that Asian Americans are more concerned with attaining material possessions.
Nearly four in ten (38%) say “For me, achieving the American dream is about improving the quality of my life by increasing personal possessions,” compared with 23% of the general public. And, more than half (55%) agree that “The pressure I feel to buy more and better material possessions is greater than ever,” compared with 29% of all respondents.
And more money leads to more stress:
While significantly more Asian Americans equate the dream with a successful career, many respondents say they have taken on more responsibility at work and are more stressed about performing all the tasks their job requires. Sixty-one percent of Asian Americans report taking on more responsibility, compared with 56% of the overall population. Similarly, 61% of Asian Americans say they are more stressed at work, while 52% of the general public report the same.
And lest you complain that this study didn’t take a broad sampling of Asian Americans, here’s their methodology: Out of 2201 general respondents, Asian Americans included 199 Chinese Americans, 178 South Asian Indians and 42 Americans from other Asian ethnicities. Note that findings for the general population as a whole were weighted based on age, gender, race, income, education, and region to reflect the latest U.S. Census demographics.
In general, as most of my friends know, I’m not the optimistic one in the group, so I found this study rather interesting. While I would have been in the group that saw myself as attaining the American Dream (I mean, I am the son of an immigrant, who’s been able to complete college and buy my own home). But I certainly wouldn’t have been as optimistic about my own future (I don’t think we’re financially better this year than last), nor would I have been as comfortable about our current cushion compared to before the recession. But I certainly understand the comments about increasing material possessions. Unfortunately, I think they too much define the Asian American dream (as I talked about in a previous post on symbols of the Asian American Dream). If you’re Asian American, do you still believe in the American Dream?