About 3.1 million immigrants have settled in New York City to chase their version of the American Dream. They make up 38% of the city’s population, 45% of the city’s workforce and own 52% of the city’s businesses.
There is no one definition of the American Dream: To Americans, it often means choosing how they want to live and striving to have a successful career. To immigrants, coming to the United States means having the opportunity to achieve those things.
But not everyone gets to realize their American Dream. “The academic consensus, developed since the 1990s, is that the ‘land of opportunity’ idea is overblown,” said Mike Hout, Professor of Sociology at New York University. His research, using data from 1994 to 2016, shows that one’s job status is likely to be the same as one’s parents. “High absolute mobility in the past came from broad economic growth and occupational transformation, not from equal chances to take advantage of opportunity,” he wrote in his paper Americans’ Occupational Status Reflects The Status of Both of Their Parents.
There are some who still succeed, like Mohan Sharma, from Nepal. He arrived in 1996 and has gone on to run a successful food business.
Others, like A.B.S Jahangir from Bangladesh, can barely make ends meet; working long hours in the food and beverage industry, or as drivers or janitors.