Q and A | Keeping the American Dream Alive


2014 Legislative Summit | Aug. 20, 2014


Is the American Dream still attainable? The Census Bureau reports a poverty rate of 15 percent. More than one in five children lives in poverty. And data also point to lower levels of economic mobility, meaning people who grow up poor are less likely to move into the middle and upper class. Given these statistics, what role do states play in ensuring every American has the opportunity to succeed?

NCSL posed these questions to economists Aparna Mathur with the American Enterprise Institute and Gregory Acs of the Urban Institute. Listen to this video from NCSL's 2014 Legislative Summit to hear their answers and learn about the policies they see as helpful to keep the American Dream alive.

Aparna Mathur is a resident scholar in economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. Mathur received her Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2005. At AEI, her research has focused on income inequality and mobility, tax policy, labor markets and small businesses. She has published in several top scholarly journals, testified several times before Congress and published numerous articles in the popular press on issues of policy relevance. 

Gregory Acs is director of the Urban Institute’s Income and Benefits Policy Center. Acs' research focuses on issues of social insurance, social welfare, and the compensation of workers. Recently, he has completed a study of the factors contributing to persistently high unemployment in the U.S. and policy responses to that problem. In addition, Acs has studied the low-wage labor market, changes in welfare policies and how they have affected welfare caseloads and the well-being of low-income families, and how state and federal policies affect the incentives families face as they move from welfare to work.  He is the author and co-author of numerous scholarly journal articles, policy papers and briefs, and also reports to federal agencies. He also co-authored "Leaving Welfare: Employment and Well-Being of Families that Left Welfare in the Post-Entitlement Era." 

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