Fewer Americans believe they are free to choose what they do with their lives.REUTERS/Jim Bourg

As Independence Day approaches, a survey has shown that a fifth of people in the US do not believe in the American dream.

The survey by Gallup showed that 21% of Americans do not feel they have the freedom to choose what to do with their lives - the central tenet of the dream.

The number of sceptics was twice as many as seven years ago, when 91% said they felt satisfied with their freedom to make choices.

Gallup surveyed people from over 120 countries to find out whether they were satisfied or dissatisfied with their freedom of choice. In 2006, the US was one of the highest in the word for satisfaction, however it is now placed 36th on the list.

New Zealand ranked highest for satisfaction, followed by Australia, Cambodia, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates.

The US was among the 10 countries that saw the biggest drop in satisfaction, falling in with countries such as Pakistan, Egypt, Romania and Greece.

White House
Widespread belief that the government is corrupt appears to be linked with satisfaction. Matt H. Wade/Creative Commons

Researchers believe the fall in satisfaction could be to do with distrust in the government. Findings showed 79% of people thought corruption was widespread in the government, compared to 59% in 2006.

Gallup said: "Perceived widespread corruption in the US government could be on the rise for several reasons, including the significant media attention on issues such as the IRS targeting of conservative groups and National Security Agency leaks.

"Americans not only feel that the US government is performing poorly, as demonstrated by record-low congressional approval ratings, but they also report that the US government itself is one of the biggest problems facing the country today.

"Americans will no doubt be celebrating their freedom this Fourth of July. However, leaders in the US should be aware of a growing number of Americans who are dissatisfied with the freedom in their own lives.

"While freedom means many things to different people, one underlying cause for this sentiment seems to be how people feel about their national government."