Americans retain optimism in recession

Thu Mar 12, 2009 3:59pm EDT
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By Andy Sullivan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans remain broadly optimistic about their economic prospects in the middle of the most severe recession since World War Two, according to a survey released on Thursday.

The Pew Economic Mobility Project found that despite dismal economic conditions and decades of widening income inequality, Americans still widely believe in the "American Dream": the idea that success is determined by one's willingness to work hard, not the circumstances of one's birth or other external forces.

The nationwide survey of 2,119 adults found that:

* 79 percent said it is still possible to get ahead in the current economy;

* 72 percent said they believed they will personally be better off 10 years from now;

* 74 percent said they were at least somewhat in control of their economic situation, but only 43 percent said that other people were in control;

* 71 percent said personal ambition was a more important determinant of success than external conditions.

But the survey also reflected the worsening economy: only 32 percent rated their own personal circumstances as "excellent" or "good," down from 52 percent in 2006.   Continued...

<p>A woman is reflected in a rain puddle along with the Ferry Building following a steady rain in San Francisco, California March 2, 2009. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith</p>