The American Dream Composite Index™ (ADCI) is a unique and robust measure of American sentiment that quantifies the American Dream on a monthly basis.  The instrument is the culmination of over three years of research on the American Dream and remains the only statistically validated measure of the American Dream.

Step 1: Dimension Generation
The most accurate way to determine the various dimensions of the American Dream is to ask those who are currently living the Dream.  Through surveys, focus groups, blog and general internet postings, and previously published literature, the American Dream was examined exhaustively.  Based on the information collected and content analysis, nearly two dozen dimensions of the American Dream were identified.

Step 2: Item Generation
In an effort to measure the American Dream, questions or statements were generated to accurately measure each of these dimensions by way of a survey instrument.

Step 3: Item Reduction and Testing the ADCI
A large-scale data collection effort was undertaken to statistically validate and refine the instrument.  At this point, the survey was also submitted to a cultural and competency review to remove any potential cultural biases and assure an appropriate reading level.  Another large sample then responded to the ADCI survey in order to further validate the instrument and reduce items and dimensions.

Step 4: Confirming and Validating the ADCI
Finally, three representative, independent samples of over 1,500 respondents each from across the U.S. were used to ultimately validate the ADCI.  Confirmatory factor analysis was utilized to verify that each item was satisfactorily reliable and that each dimension was internally sound and related to other dimensions in appropriate and predicable ways.  In addition, the 35 remaining dimensions were tested to see if they could be grouped or categorized into overarching and predictable themes or “super dimensions”.  Each dimension was assigned to only one overarching “super dimension”.  This produced the five “super dimensions” which we refer to as “sub-indices.”  In the end, findings based on the three independent samples indicated a statistically sound, valid, and reliable survey instrument.

Meet the Team


Amit Sen, Ph.D


Gregory Smith, Ph.D

Information Systems

Joel Asay

Information Systems

From the ADCI Blog

  • Workplace Dissatisfaction
    With all the talk the past few months about jobs and employment, I thought it might be interesting to view some recent perspectives on the matter from the ADCI data. In October we saw the steepest …
  • Gasoline Prices and The Savings Rate
    In the past few weeks, we’ve coined the term ‘a happy accident’ to explain why gas prices have declined so much, while retail sales have been flat, and the savings rate has …

Eye-Opening Results

"45% of all respondents say they would pay more for services like fast food if it meant the workers were paid more than minimum wage. These responses closely matched the reported political ideology where less than 30% of conservatives and 60% of liberals said they would pay more for these services if it meant better wages for workers."

"Over half of millennials report they would work more hours at their current primary job if given the opportunity"

"We use survey-reported factors to predict monthly retail sales, consumer sentiment, GDP, housing sales, discretionary income and spending." 

"As expected, credit card debt is the highest source of debt for most respondents outside of a mortgage.  This is even the case for millennials--23% of whom say student loans are their largest source of debt and 46% say credit cards are their largest source of debt."

Connect with Us

American Dream Composite Index
Xavier University
C/O Gregory Smith

Cincinnati, OH