Giving Compass' Take:

· A new AEI survey on community and society has shown that Americans are not happy with the current direction of the country, but believe that they can still achieve the American Dream in their community. 

· What is the American Dream? How do Americans interact in their communities? Why are communities so important? 

· Check out this article to gain more insight on the quality of life for Americans

We are living through a period marked by social tension, tumultuous politics, and economic anxiety. As a number of social analysts and commentators have documented, our country’s social and civic fabric has been fraying along cultural and economic lines in distressing ways. Coverage of national political issues reveals a nation bitterly divided, and a new type of tribal intolerance toward people of opposing political opinions has become pervasive, even afflicting the highest levels of some of America’s most important institutions.

A more sanguine storyline, though, resides beneath the surface of the daily reporting on our social divisions. Americans of all stripes still believe in the goodness of their communities, neighbors, and institutions close to home. They still believe in the American dream, prioritize freedom and family over materialism, and have people to rely on, even if they are not as connected with others as they would like. These and other related findings emerge in the new AEI Survey on Community and Society (SCS).

The SCS is designed to contribute to the literature on social capital, civic well-being, and quality of life in the United States. It extends work that began at AEI more than 40 years ago on the importance of the mediating institutions of family, neighborhood, and community to civic health.1 The new survey explores how Americans feel about their communities and examines factors that might increase or impede community engagement. It inquires into neighborhood interactions, factors affecting social isolation, and willingness to work together to solve community problems. The survey probes opinions about various types of neighborhood amenities and even asks people whether they own a dog and walk it regularly.

Read the full article about life in the United States by Karlyn Bowman, Samuel J. Abrams, Eleanor O'Neil and Ryan Streeter at AEI.