Search for specific advisors, products, services, articles, etc.

This is proprietary research conducted by Northwestern Mutual in 2014. Use of this information is intended for reference. Northwestern Mutual's recent proprietary research is available here

Northwestern Mutual sponsored an online study to examine U.S. adults’ perceptions of their personal, family, career and financial success. This study surveyed a random sample of 1,513 U.S. adults. Results were weighted as needed to parallel U.S. Census proportions for education, age, gender, race/ethnicity, region and household income.

Financial Success

Americans include the basics when defining financial success, with being able to pay bills on time, being debt free, not living paycheck-to-paycheck and owning a home as their most common measures of financial success.

Furthermore, Asian Americans define the following as the top indicators for personal financial success:

  • 33 percent-being debt free
  • 33 percent-owning their own home
  • 32 percent-not living paycheck-to-paycheck
  • 29 percent-paying their bills on time

Did you know the Asian-American community holds more college degrees (60% vs. 32%) than the average population within the United States, and that 54 percent of Asian Americans are the first in their family to graduate from college?


The secret to happiness in America may be as simple as laughing every day. In addition, the American public remains mostly optimistic about the future –  with a majority believing in their ability to make dreams a reality and that hard work leads to success. Nearly half of those who say they are unhappy today are planning their lives so that they can be happier later in life.

It may not be surprising that women view success and happiness through a comprehensive lens. The top three most important aspects of success for women are:

  • "Being happy" (84%)
  • "Having enough money to pay the bills" (79%)
  • "Being healthy" (79%)