Living the American Dream

American Dream Composite Index Ranks New Jersey in the Top 5 Dream States

Achieving the American Dream has long been part of our national ethos. While the definition of what it means to live the American Dream has changed over time – and is not the same for everyone – the pursuit of a better, richer life has been an aspiration for generations.

Researchers recognize that since the American Dream is not just one dream, but a set of ideals and a collection of individual dreams, it has been difficult to quantify. But after five years of data collection to gauge the collective sentiment of people in the United States, researchers believe they finally have the first statistically validated measurement that quantifies the American Dream and the degree to which people believe they are achieving it.

The Xavier University American Dream Composite Index (ADCI) measures 35 distinct areas of the American Dream across five broad categories: economics, health and well-being, societal issues, diversity and the physical environment. I am pleased to report that in 2016, New Jersey ranked in the ADCI’s five Top Dream States, reflecting our residents’ positive perception about the quality of life in our State. New Jersey is the only State in the Northeast on the ADCI’s Top Dream States list.

As a resident of the Garden State, New Jersey’s #4 position on the list is not surprising. Those of us that live and work here recognize our State offers a quality of life that is one of the best in the nation.

As president and CEO of Choose New Jersey, I am keenly aware that New Jersey offers businesses something unique in an increasing competitive environment: access to top talent. While many communities across the country have difficulty attracting the talent to satisfy the needs of business, New Jersey offers companies access to a highly educated, motivated workforce. We have the ability to attract and retain these talented individuals because they believe New Jersey is a place where they can realize the American Dream.

Here are just a few of the categories that earned New Jersey a Best in Class Performer designation and a #4 Top Dream State ranking in the ADCI:


It is no surprise that access to a quality education is a key to dream fulfillment and New Jersey has long been recognized as a leader in education. Ranked the #2 State for high school graduation rates in the country, more than 90 percent of our students receive their high school diplomas in four years, as compared to the national average of just 83 percent. Nearly 36 percent of New Jersey’s workforce graduates from college with a bachelor’s degree or higher. The national average is 29 percent.

But New Jersey’s parents also recognize that our strength in education begins long before high school.  Our State’s excellent pre-K and elementary schools are where our children get the foundation they need for future academic success. And with 63 colleges and universities, including nationally ranked Princeton UniversityStevens Institute of TechnologyNew Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, residents of New Jersey have access to myriad options to advance their education or simply hone new skills.


Access to quality healthcare is equally important to the perception of American Dream attainment, according to the ADCI. It is little wonder that New Jersey received a Best in Class Performer designation in this area too.

People who live here have access to some of the best doctors and healthcare systems in the nation. New Jersey’s hospitals are on the forefront of medical innovation – from leading maternal and child health services to state-of-the-art surgical techniques to cutting-edge cancer treatment.

Among the state’s 111 hospitals and 73 acute care hospitals, four are nationally ranked and 45 others meet national high performing standards, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2016-2017 Best Hospitals rankings. Topping the list is Hackensack University Medical Center, which was ranked the #1 hospital in New Jersey and nationally ranked in four adult specialties, including cardiology and heart surgery.

When you live in New Jersey, there is no need to board an airplane – or even cross a river – to find the quality healthcare you need. It is right in your own backyard.


Those of us who live here recognize that New Jersey is a State with endless possibilities. In addition to some of the best healthcare and education in the country, residents here have a wide variety of choices when it comes to recreation – world-class theater, music and museums, exciting professional sports teams, including football, hockey and soccer, 130 miles of stunning coastline, and great dining and shopping options.

One of the most ethnically diverse states in the U.S., New Jersey welcomes people from all cultures, which is reflected in our food, shopping and cultural events. Residents here can choose to partake in the familiar or opt to explore the best of other cultures, whether at home or on vacation. With daily non-stop flights to more than 110 international destinations and 90 U.S. cities from New Liberty and nearby airports, it is easy to travel anywhere in the world from New Jersey.

Plus, New Jersey offers its residents the freedom to live in an urban high-rise, single-family home in the suburbs, beachfront cottage or sprawling farm. In New Jersey, it is all about having the lifestyle choices that align with a personalized American Dream.


Whether it is the freedom to choose from a variety of living options or determining a career path that leads to success, people in our State believe they have the power to achieve their dreams and the self-determination to realize them, according to the results of the ADCI.

Maybe it is because we can offer our residents a variety of career options in a diverse group of industries. While New Jersey boasts more scientists and engineers per square mile than anywhere world, our residents can build successful careers in a number of key industries that are thriving here, including life scienceslogisticsmanufacturinghealthcarefinancial servicestechnology and food.

Entrepreneurs who dream of growing a successful business or pioneering the next great technological breakthrough also find New Jersey a welcoming place. Ranked the #4 State for Innovation, we nurture entrepreneurs that have the self-determination to make their dreams realities by supporting them with educationincubators and co-working spaces, as well as financial incentives, to help them achieve success.

Perhaps it is the self-determination of New Jersey’s residents that gives the fourth smallest State in the country the ability to consistently achieve the nation’s eighth largest gross domestic product (GDP).

For most people, the American Dream also includes material prosperity, such as owning a home, feeling safe in their community and having the support of the people around them. New Jersey was awarded Best in Class Performer designations in these categories too. And according to the findings of the ADCI, New Jersey residents are happier than most people in the United States. In fact, in the Happiness category, the Garden State ranked among the top three States in the nation.

If you have the self-determination to pursue a better, richer, life with access to great education and healthcare and the freedom to choose the lifestyle and career that gives you the most satisfaction, join us in New Jersey and come live the American Dream.

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