Bottle of champagne Dominic Lipinski/Getty Images

Esto que se da en llamar el sueño americano

NUEVA YORK – En 1968, el periodista gonzo Hunter S. Thompson reflexionó sobre "esto de la muerte del sueño americano". ¿Pero qué era eso llamado el sueño americano? ¿Qué lo hizo exclusivamente americano?

Para algunos, el sueño era la creencia de los norteamericanos de que su economía era una cornucopia de bienes que sin duda ofrecerían un nivel de vida inimaginable en otras economías: el sueño de una abundancia y un confort sin igual. Pero, si bien Estados Unidos tenía un nivel salarial superior en los años 1700, Gran Bretaña prácticamente cerró la brecha salarial con Estados Unidos en los años 1880, y Alemania llegó casi a la misma instancia en 1913. Alemania y Francia alcanzaron a Estados Unidos en los años 1970.

Para algunos economistas, el sueño era la esperanza de un mejor nivel de vida: el sueño del progreso. El economista Raj Chetty ha venido midiendo la mejora que experimentó la gente en comparación con la que tuvieron sus padres. Chetty determinó que, en 1940, casi todos los norteamericanos jóvenes -el 90%, para ser precisos- tenían un ingreso familiar más alto del que tenían sus padres cuando eran jóvenes. Ese porcentaje elevado refleja, en gran medida, el rápido crecimiento de la productividad de Estados Unidos, que impulsó los niveles salariales. Sin embargo, entre 1890 y 1940, el rápido crecimiento de la productividad también era normal en Gran Bretaña, Alemania y Francia -como lo fue en los "30 años gloriosos" de 1945 a 1975-. De manera que si el sueño era el progreso, los europeos también podrían haber soñado con el progreso. 

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