The central tenet of the American dream is the idea that if you work hard, you can succeed. Success is usually measured by financial stability, the ability to support a family, perhaps own some property, save for retirement, invest in the future opportunities of your children, and maybe afford to take a vacation once in a while. Middle-class America thrived for many years because hard work created a degree of wealth that allowed people to achieve these relatively modest goals. But in today’s economy, more and more firms are cutting ties to employees—in the form of moving jobs overseas, subcontracting, and the “gig economy." Wages and benefits—the foundation of wealth for working people—are being replaced with lower and less stable earnings, unpredictable self-employment income, anemic benefits (if any), and a frayed social safety net. If work can no longer lead to wealth, then Americans will lose a fundamental element of our national character. What public policies, business practices, and charitable investments can reconnect work and wealth?
Ida RademacherExecutive Director, Aspen Institute Financial Security Program
Xavier de Souza BriggsVice President, Economic Opportunity and Markets, Ford Foundation
Maureen ConwayExecutive Director, Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program
Martin EakesCo-Founder and CEO, Self-Help Credit Union; CEO, Center for Responsibl...
Lata ReddySVP of Inclusion, Prudential Financial
- 2016 Festival