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This is proprietary research conducted by Northwestern Mutual in 2009. Use of this information is intended for reference. Northwestern Mutual's recent proprietary research is available here.

Northwestern Mutual sponsored The American Reality Study to help provide insight into how Americans are handling the economic, political, and social changes taking place in the U.S. and what the impact has been on the way they view their lives and their future. (Conducted 2009)

The American Reality Study revealed a number of surprising results about the attitudes and priorities of Americans, including:

  • The American dream is being redefined; success is measured in family units, and quality of life is more important than money, career, possessions.
  • There is a pattern of optimism, despite the economic crisis, and Americans are generally positive about the future, even in the near term.
  • Americans are satisfied with the success they’re achieving with the things that matter to them most, and they believe they will eventually achieve their dreams.
  • Americans consider money a means to an end, rather than the end itself.
  • Middle adulthood is considered the “Golden Years” of life.

For more information about The American Reality Study, download the full report.