Skip to main content
book

Dream Hoarders

How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do About It

By Richard V. Reeves
9780815734482_FC

Dream Hoarders sparked a national conversation on the dangerous separation between the upper middle class and everyone else. Now in paperback and newly updated for the age of Trump, Brookings Institution senior fellow Richard Reeves is continuing to challenge the class system in America.

In America, everyone knows that the top 1 percent are the villains. The rest of us, the 99 percent—we are the good guys. Not so, argues Reeves. The real class divide is not between the upper class and the upper middle class: it is between the upper middle class and everyone else.

The separation of the upper middle class from everyone else is both economic and social, and the practice of “opportunity hoarding”—gaining exclusive access to scarce resources—is especially prevalent among parents who want to perpetuate privilege to the benefit of their children. While many families believe this is just good parenting, it is actually hurting others by reducing their chances of securing these opportunities. There is a glass floor created for each affluent child helped by his or her wealthy, stable family. That glass floor is a glass ceiling for another child.

Throughout Dream Hoarders, Reeves explores the creation and perpetuation of opportunity hoarding, and what should be done to stop it, including controversial solutions such as ending legacy admissions to school. He offers specific steps toward reducing inequality and asks the upper middle class to pay for it.

Convinced of their merit, members of the upper middle class believes they are entitled to those tax breaks and hoarded opportunities. After all, they aren’t the 1 percent. The national obsession with the super rich allows the upper middle class to convince themselves that they are just like the rest of America. In Dream Hoarders, Reeves argues that in many ways, they are worse, and that changes in policy and social conscience are the only way to fix the broken system.

Praise for Dream Hoarders

"Reading Richard Reeves on social mobility is like going for a good walk: he is bracing, head clearing, and ultimately inspiring. With rigor and wit, his new book shows how millions of successful, hard-working Americans, often with the best of intentions, have helped build a society where birth matters more than brilliance. Impassioned, data-driven, and focused on practical solutions, Dream Hoarders is a fine cure for an age of stale, cynical politics.”
—David Rennie, The Economist

“Warning: Reeves’s book will challenge some of your assumptions, no matter what your views are. And he shows how innocent or even admirable actions in particular spheres can reinforce existing hierarchies. Dream Hoarders will shake you up, teach you a lot, and make you think much harder.”
—E.J. Dionne Jr., author of Why the Right Went Wrong and Our Divided Political Heart

“Reeves’s argument is seductive because it starts with some understated truths.”
The New Republic

“Richard Reeves’s new book offers a trenchant diagnosis of the economic disparities that separate upper-middle-class Americans from those in the working class.”
The National Review

Related Books

Get daily updates from Brookings