Feudal Future
Feudal Future
Mar 29, 2022
Can We Restore The California Dream? SPECIAL
Play • 2 min

We want California to come back. Will you join us in this fight?

From Chapman's Center of Demographics & Policy, Joel Kotkin & Marshall Toplansky co-author the brand new report on restoring The California Dream.

If you haven't downloaded the report, see it here: 

What is happening to the California dream? For some it still comes true, but for many, and perhaps most Californians, the state increasingly fails to provide ample opportunities to start a business, buy a home or move up to the middle class. The state’s performance on these issues is the ultimate test of the ‘California model’ and its validity for the rest of the nation.

We face two seemingly discordant realities. In technology, culture and lifestyle, California remains the envy of the world. The state’s aggregate economy—its GDP—has continued to grow faster than the national average, in large part due to the enormous surge of wealth created in the tech sector, where California is home to 53 of the country’s 500 largest firms and four of the country’s seven most valued firms, all in tech.

California’s 2020 $3.2 trillion GDP would make it the world’s fifth largest national economy if it were a standalone country, just behind Germany. It accounts for 14% of the US GDP, while our 40 million people account for slightly under 12% of the country’s population. The Golden State, by that metric, still punches above its weight. Yet for most Californians, the economic reality is far from rosy. Even as the state creates an ever-higher number of billionaires—24 added just last year—California workers have not shared in the prosperity. Nearly 80% of all jobs created in the state over the past decade paid less than the median income, a percentage far below our prime competitors. The inconvenient truth is that in key metrics such as housing costs and income growth, most Californians are doing worse than their counterparts elsewhere.

Overall, California now underperforms its main competitors, notably Arizona, Texas, Washington and Utah in many sectors of the economy—manufacturing, professional business services, construction and energy—that once provided steady, high-wage employment. The loss of major corporations in distribution, engineering, aerospace and technology also has eroded our economic diversity and key sources of long-term, middle-class employment.

Low real wages, combined with the very high price of real estate, have created a profoundly divided California. The primary task before us is to restore California’s opportunity culture, and by doing so, create prosperity for a broad section of California’s middle and working-classes. Our great state needs to restore its historical promise to its citizens.

California’s key challenge is not to produce wealth, but rather to spread its blessings more widely. Housing may well be the key issue; more than 70% of Californians surveyed consider the state’s housing costs as “a very serious issue,” and more than half are considering a move out.

Support Our Work
The Center for Demographics and Policy focuses on research and analysis of global, national, and regional demographic trends and explores policies that might produce favorable demographic results over time. It involves Chapman students in demographic research under the supervision of the Center’s senior staff.

Students work with the Center’s director and engage in research that will serve them well as they look to develop their careers in business, the social sciences, and the arts. Students also have access to our advisory board, which includes distinguished Chapman faculty and major demographic scholars from across the country and the world.

For additional information, please contact Mahnaz Asghari, sponsored project analyst for the Office of Research, at (714) 744-7635 or asghari@chapman.edu.

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