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The retired people of West Palm Beach ..

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Title:
The retired people of West Palm Beach ..
Creator:
Fuguitt, Glenn Victor, 1928-
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Language:
English
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156 leaves. : ; 28 cm.

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Subjects / Keywords:
Age groups ( jstor )
Censuses ( jstor )
Cities ( jstor )
Counties ( jstor )
Housing ( jstor )
Older adults ( jstor )
Retirement ( jstor )
Retirement age ( jstor )
Wage earners ( jstor )
Women ( jstor )
Dissertations, Academic -- Sociology -- UF ( lcsh )
Gerontology ( lcsh )
Social surveys -- Florida ( lcsh )
Sociology thesis M.A ( lcsh )
City of St. Petersburg ( local )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Thesis:
Thesis (M.A.) -- University of Florida.
Bibliography:
Bibliography: leaves 154-155.
General Note:
Manuscript copy.
General Note:
Vita.

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University of Florida
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University of Florida
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Copyright [name of dissertation author]. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Resource Identifier:
000572448 ( ALEPH )
13810301 ( OCLC )
ACZ9594 ( NOTIS )

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Full Text















THE RETIRED PEOPLE OF WEST PALM BEACH










By
GLENN V. FUGUITT


A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS












UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
June, 1952




THE RETIRED PEOPLE OF WEST PALM BEACH
By
GLENN V. FUGUITT
A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
June, 1952


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The writer wishes to express his thanks to the chairman of
his Supervisory Committee, Dr. T. Lynn Smith, for his patient co
operation and guidance throughout the preparation of this thesis.
Acknowledgment should also be given to the other members of the
committee, Dr. John M. Maclachlan and Dr. Herbert A. Meyer, both of
whom willingly gave valuable advice and assistance.
Mr. Irving L. Webber, of the Florida State Improvement Com
mission was very helpful, particularly in the planning and field
work stages of this project. Professor W. F. Callender, Interim
Director of the University of Florida Bureau of Statistics, suggested
the sample design which was used in the survey.
The writer also wishes to express his appreciation to his wife,
whose enoouragement and cooperation was so instrumental in bringing
this thesis to a completion



TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
LIST OF TABLES W
LIST OF FIGURES v
Part One Introduction
CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION I
CHAPTER II SURVEY OF THE LITERATURE 12
CHAPTER III THE COMMUNITY BACKGROUND 24
Part Two The Retired Population
CHAPTER IV COMPOS ITI ON 38
CHAPTER V THE RETIREMENT PROCESS 49
CHAPTER VI MIGRATION 62
Part Three Housing, Economic and
Health Status
CHAPTER VI I THE HOUSING SITUATION 73
CHAPTER VIII ECONOMIC STATUS 87
CHAPTER IX HEALTH STATUS 103
Part Four Activities
CHAPTER X RECREATIONAL AND EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES .... 114
CHAPTER XI PARTICIPATION IN ORGANIZATIONS 131
CHAPTER XI I RELIGIOUS ACTIVITIES 137
Part Five Summary and Conclusion
CHAPTER XIII SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION 146
BIBLIOGRAPHY 154
APPENDIX
156


LIST OF TABLES
Table Page
1 Population of West Palm Beach, for Census Years
from 1900 to 1950 ........ 26
2 Percentage Distribution of Persons in the Labor
Force, by Industry Groups, West Palm Beach and
United States Urban Populations, 1940. 33
3 Age Distribution of the Total Sample, by Sex,
West Palm Beach, 1951. 39
4 Marital Status of the Total Sample, by Sex,
West Palm Beach, 1951*. 41
5 Religious Preference of the Total Sample, by
Sex, West Palm Beach, 1951 45
6 Educational Status of Persons in the Total
Sample, by Sex, West Palm Beach, 1951. 47
7 Former Occupations of Principal Wage Earners,
West Palm Beach, 1951. 51
8 Industry Group Distribution of Occupations of
Principal Wage Earners, West Palm Beach, 1951. 56
9 Reasons for the Retirement of Principal Wage
Earners, West Palm Beach, 1951 58
10 Number of Years Which Members of the Total
Sample Lived in West Palm Beach, by Residence
Before Retirement, West Palm Beach, 1951 .... 64
11 Size of Community of Previous Residence, for
Those in the Total Sample Who Moved to West
Palm Beach After Retirement, West Palm Beach
1951 68
12 Living Arrangement of Members of the Total
Sample, by Sex, West Palm Beach, I95I....... 75
13 Attitudes of Persons in the Short Sample Toward
Living Quarters, by Sex, West Palm Beach, 1951 77
14Attitudes of Persons in the Short Sample Toward
Living in a Neighborhood of Older People, by Sex,
West Palm Beach, 1951 78
iv


15
Sizes of Families in Sample Households, West
Palm Beach, 1951 81
16Approximate Values of Homes Owned by Retired
Persons in the Total Sample, West Palm Beach,
1951 83
17 Attitudes of Persons in the Short Sample Toward
Present Incomes, West Palm Beach, 1951* 89
18 Number of Persons Dependent Upon Retired House
hold Heads, West Palm Beach, 1951 90
19 Sources of Inooraes Reported by Retired House
hold Heads, West Palm Beach, 1951 92
20 Number of Means of Support Reported by Retired
Household Heads, West PI am Beach, 1951. . 94
21 Desire to Work, Retired Household Heads, by
Sex, West Palm Beach, 1951* 99
22 Attitudes of Persons in the Short Sample Toward
Their Health, by Sex, West Palm Beach, 1951 ... 105
23 Types of Physical Ailments Reported by Persons in
the Short Sample, by Sex, West Palm Beach, 1951 106
24 Number of Physical Ailments Reported by Persons
in the Short Sample, by Sex, West Palm Beach,
1951 108
25 The Three /tost Important Activities of Persons
in the Short Sample, by Sex, West Palm Beach,
1951 116
26 Hobbies Reported by Members of the Total Sample,
by Sex, West Palm Beach, 1951 120
27 Newspaper Reading Practices, Sample Households,
West Palm Beach, 1951 ..... 122
28 Time Spent Reading, by Persons in the Short
Sample, by Sex, West Palm Beach, 1951 123
29 Number of Organizational Memberships for Persons
in the Total Sample, by Sex, West Palm Beach,
1951 132
v


30 Attendance of Persons in the Total Sample at
Religious Services, by Sex, West Palm Beach,
1951 140
31 Church Membership of Persons in the Total Sample,
by Sex, West Palm Beach, 1951 142
vi


LIST OF FIGURES
Fiqure Pace
1 Age-Sex Pyramid for fhe White Population of
West Palm Beach, 1940 28
2 Age-Sex Pyramid for the Non-White Population
of West Palm Beach, 1940. ............ 29
3 Index Numbers of Ages, for Selected White Urban
Population, 1940. 35
4 State of Birth of Members of the Total Sample,
West Palm Beach, 1931 43
5 State of Previous Residence of Those in the Total
Sample Who Moved to the City After Retirement,
West Palm Beach, 1951 66
6 Odum's Regions of the United States ..... 165
vil


PART ONE
INTRODUCTION


CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION
This is a sociological study of the retired people who are
living in West Palm Beach, Florida. The objectives of the project
are to obtain factual information on the population characteristics,
housing, economic and health status, and activities of the retired
group, as well as to survey some of the programs and facilities pro
vided for them in the city.
The analysis of the material is descriptive in scope, with no
attempt made to prove or disprove specific hypotheses. Using the
sociological point of view, emphasis is on stating the facts, rather
than on emphasizing particular problems or advocating specific pro
grams of action.
The subjects under examination are the white retired persons
living in the specific area bounded by the city limits of West Palm
Beach, Florida, and certain local community institutions and organi
zations serving these people. While the field work took place during
the summer of 1951, it is the writer's opinion that the generalizations
obtained from the investigation hold true for this city over a somewhat
longer period of time.
Three methods were used to obtain the data analyzed in this re
port. The most important was an interview survey of retired people liv
ing in West Palm Beach. The second method was to interview selected
leaders of the community from whom related information was obtained. In
I


2
addition, certain secondary sources, such as census reports and histori
cal works yielded background material. The first one of these means of
obtaining data deserves a more complete explanation.
It was, of course, impossible to talk to all of the retired
people of the city. Therefore, an effort was made to select those inter
viewed so that they would represent a cross-section of the total group.
To attempt seriously to do so requires a somewhat elaborate procedure,
as wi11 be shown.
At the suggestion of Professor W. F. Callender, Interim Director
of the Bureau of Statistics at the University of Florida, city blocks
were made the basic units of the sample. Thus, certain blocks were
selected throughout West Palm Beach. An occupant of every dwelling
unit within these blocks was then interviewed in order to obtain certain
information from or about all the retired persons living within the
specified areas.
The next problem was to decide on the number of blocks desired
in the sample. This number was limited by the amount of time availa
ble for interviewing. It was felt before beginning that only 100 to
120 interviews could be obtained during the period of field work.
At this point a preliminary survey was made in West Palm Beach,
to determine roughly the average number of dwelling units housing re
tired persons on each block. In the sample of 20 blocks, selected in
a method yet to be described, 1 houses in which retired persons lived
were reported. This indicated that in the city there was per block an
average of about 1.3 dwelling units which housed persons falling under


3
our definition of retired. According to this estimate, about 107 inter
views could be obtained in a sample of 82 blocks. This number of blocks,
then, was selected for the final sample.
As it turned out, the estimate of the preliminary survey was
somewhat low, so that 140 interviews were actually obtained in the 82
blocks. For this reason, another interviewer had to be obtained for a
two-week period.
In order to take a sample that is representative of a total
group, each member of the group must have an equal chance of being
selected. One way of approximating this would have been to pick the 82
sample blocks completely at random. With this method, however, there
would have been a possibility that chance selections would concentrate
in certain areas of the city, leaving others completely without sample
blocks. It was thus felt that a randomly determined, systematic selec
tion of blocks might give a smaller sampling error. For determining
this sample an enlarged city map was obtained. After marking off the
Negro section which was not included in the study, all the blocks were
numbered in a serpentine manner, starting at the north end and working
south. The last block, on the southeast corner of the city was number
909. By a systematic selection, every "iwth numbered block on the map
was selected for the sample, insuring a more or less uniform geographi
cal distribution throughout the city. The interval between the block
numbers selected, or "I" is the quotient of the total number of blocks
in the city divided by the number of blocks desired in the sample.
The "I" for this sample, then, is equivalent to the total number of


4
blocks delineated on the map of West Palm Beach, or 909, divided by the
number of blocks desired in the sample, 82, which is equal to approxi
mately II. Thus, numbered blocks on the map would be taken at intervals
of II, in order to get 82 blocks for the sample. The actual blocks
taken in the sample were determined by choosing the first block at
random from those numbered one to eleven. Block number nine was the
random selection and became the first block in the final sample. Suc
ceeding block numbers were obtained by adding eleven each time.
The final sample included nine per cent of all the blocks in
the city. It could then be expected that they would contain approxi
mately nine per cent of the retired people of the city. A sample of
this size should be fairly representative of the total group for most
purposes.
Unfortunately, the final sample of retired persons interviewed
was biased in several ways. Every effort was made to contact members
of each family in the sample blocks. The purposes of the survey were
carefully explained and retired persons thus found were interviewed
where possible. Some persons, however, remained unconvinced of the
value of such a project. Fourteen retired persons refused to be inter
viewed, while it is possible that others were omitted merely because
they denied that they were retired.
After three "callbacks" no one was found at home in a number
of dwelling units throughout the sample blocks. Some of these may
have been homes of retired persons, although the majority no doubt
housed families in which all members were employed, and therefore away


5
during the day.
A larger number of houses in the sample blocks were obviously
closed for extended periods. The survey was made during the hot summer
months when many persons take their vacations. No doubt a number of
these houses belonged to persons who were no longer working. This
probably represents the biggest source of bias in the sample, and indi
cates that persons of modest means, who could not afford to travel were
likely to have been oveirepresented.
It is seen that the sample survey which was taken, despite all
precautions possible under the circumstances, was nevertheless not per
fectly representative of all the retired persons who called West Palm
Beach their home during the summer of IS5I. The results of the survey,
however, do make the best picture available for this group, and in the
opinion of the writer are not greatly distorted. The chief danger
should lie in over-analyzing the material and trying to draw conclusions
that are too precise. Thus, although most of the present findings are
presented in terms of the sample, it is believed that in the main, they
are equally true of the entire retired group.
The actual interviewing was carried on with the aid of a printed
schedule, one of which was filled out for each respondent by the inter
viewers. On it each question was completely written out, to make sure
that every person would be asked the same question in exactly the same
way. A copy of this research aid will be found in the Appendix*
The writer did about two-thirds of the interviewing for the
survey. In order to complete work within the time limit, Mrs. Esther


6
C. Holt, a sociology teacher at the West Palm Beach Junior College, was
employed for two weeks and she took the remaining one-third of the
schedules.
To save time, only one schedule was filled out for each married
couple. The partner contacted was asked a number of questions for his
spouse. In addition, several questions were included which could only
be answered by the person interviewed, along with some concerning the
heads of households, and the total household group.
This method of collecting material and comprehensive coverage
of subject matter in the schedule meant that with one sample, informa
tion about five different groups of people was obtained.
The first is made up of persons for whom a completed schedule
was filled out. This group of 140 persons (68 men and 72 women) repre
sents a somewhat biased sample, as it includes only one person from
each of the retired couples contacted in the survey. Throughout the
report this group is referred to as the short sample.
Next is the total sample group, composed of all the retired
persons about whom information was obtained. This is the short sample
plus the spouses not personally interviewed, totaling 202 persons, 84
of whom are men and 118 are women.
For questions concerning such things as employment since re
tirement, information was obtained about all retired persons not pre
sently married and all males who were married, whether or not they were
directly interviewed. Though the term is not strictly accurate, this
group is considered to be the retired heads of households included in


6
the sample. It consists of 84 men and 56 women, or a total of 140
persons*
Certain questions, such as the one on reasons for retirement,
actually concern the principal wage earners of the family groups at the
time of retirement, whether or not they are alive, or presently living
in West Palm Beach. This group, referred to as the principal wage earn
ers, includes 140 persons, or 122 men and 18 women*
Some information, in addition, was obtained on the 134 house
holds in which the members of the total sample lived*
For the purposes of this study, the following definition of
"retired persons" has been followed*
1. Persons who have left their regular lifetime
occupation. This would include older persons
working irregularly or part-time.
2. Persons who have never worked, or v/ho are liv
ing on inherited or earned wealth.
3* Wives of the above persons unless they are work
ing ful I-time.
4. Widows of retired men.
5. Other widows, 55 years old or over who do not
work or who work part-time.
The median has been used in several parts of this report. This
is a descriptive, statistical measure of central tendency which means
"middle item." If a series of observations are ranked according to their
magnitude, the magnitude at the point equally dividing the observations
is the median. Thus, in Chapter IV, it was stated that the median years
of school completed by the sample group was 9.9. This means that one-
half of the members of the sample attended school for a longer period,


7
and one-half for a shorter period than 9.9 years.
It is generally recognized that the United States has for
more than a century, been going through a period of rapid social
change. Several of the effects of this change have combined to make
desirable the study of people in the older and retired groups.
Probably the most important of these effects is the changing
age profile of the population, making a dramatic increase in the pro
portion and absolute number of those of advanced years. This fact is
easily observable with modern census methods. A student of population,
for instance, demonstrated that for the 30 states of the United States
which could be compared, the weighted average of the percentage of those
over 65 in 1830 was 8.31, while the same value for 1930 was 17.85.*
This proportional change, along with the great population growth which
has characterized this nation, means that the absolute number of those
in the older age groups is also increasing.
This increase, however, would not alone justify extensive study
of aged or retired people as a group. Other changes upon our social
scene appear to have made this segment of life an increasingly diffi
cult period through which to pass. In other words, while people in
most societies probably have to face some form of adjustment to old age,
this adjustment is becoming harder to make in our society, while at
the same time the number and proportion of those forced to make it is
increasing.
^Raymond Pearl, "The Ageing of Populations, The American Statis
tical Association Journal 35 (1940), 277 297.


8
In a predominantly rural culture, such as existed in the United
States about a century ago, the coming of old age for most people pre
sented few problems, except those related to increasing physical infirmi
ties. At that time the family was more important as a social group than
is true today. Older persons could usually expect to receive physical
and economic assistance from their children or other members of the
family group upon retirement.
Most of the workers then were farmers and small business men,
while wage earners on a whole enjoyed more personal relationships with
their employers than is true today. Thus retirement for most people
could be a gradual rather than an abrupt process. A man could relin
quish his responsibilities one by one, often turning them over to his
chi I dren.
It is v/ell known that this condition no longer exists for a
sizeable part of the population. With the industrial revolution has
come urbanization largely through great internal migrations, with a
resulting decrease in the importance of the family as a group, and
general increase of impersonal relationships. The older person often
can no longer look to his children for shelter, or even financial
assistance. Compact, urban housing does not encourage the addition of
older persons to the family group, while in many cases mobility makes
strangers of family segments which are a generation apart.
With industries growth and concentration, the proportion of
wage-earners has increased. Among the requirements for many industrial
jobs are high-speed performance and great strength, which tend to


9
exclude those of advanced years. Personal employer-employee relation
ships have largely become a thing of the past, and perhaps because of
this, along with reasons of economic expediency, the practice of gradual
retirement has all but died out.
Thus, the machine age worker often finds himself abruptly chang
ing from a life of strenuous and constant activity to one of apparent
emptiness, many times unable to turn to relatives or friends for finan
cial assistance, physical care, or psychic support.
Related to these conditions and adding to the frustration of
most persons entering retirement status is the fact that the new emphasis ,
on science and progress has taken away much of the traditional respect
for the wisdom and importance of older people, especially those no longer
working. Most often these individuals are considered "old fashioned"
or "out of step" by the younger members of our society.
The recognition that this increasing number of older and retired
persons are today facing special problems, has led many individuals and
groups, in line with the ameliorative values of our society, to want
to "do something about it." But intelligent action requires knowledge.
One valuable function of social research, then, is to furnish factual,
objective knowledge about these people. How many persons are in this
group? Where are they? With whom do they live? How well do they solve
their economic problems? What is their overall health status? How do
they use their free time? These and many other questions require an
swers before the wise planning of any program concerning older and re
tired people may be undertaken, either on community or higher levels,


10
by governmental or institutional groups.
The need to learn more about the older and retired citizens
of peninsular Florida is particularly acute. It has been recognized
that the changing structure of society is concentrating elderly per
sons in certain sections of the United States, Information is pre
sented in Chapter II which shows conclusively that older people are
becoming more migratory, and that Florida is receiving increasingly
significant numbers of them.
The value of the present project should now be obvious. It
could provide useful information for community leaders in cities
throughout Florida, as well as state planning agencies. This informa
tion could be used not only as a factual base for public or institu
tional programs aimed at assisting these people in their adjustment to
old age and retirement, but also as an aid in making any decision vtfiich
would directly or indirectly affect them. In addition, the findings
of the project should represent a worth-while addition to the fund of
knowledge on this important subject which is being built up by social
scientists throughout the country.
Part One of this report contains introductory material, and
includes this chapter and the two following which are, respectively, a
survey of the literature which has appeared on the subject of old age
and retirement, and a discussion of background information on the city
of West Palm Beach. Part Two is concerned with the retired population.
Chapter IV, the first in this part, includes information on the com
position of the retired population, while certain facts pertaining to


the process of retirement are taken up in Chapter V* Chapter VI con
tains a discussion of migration, with special emphasis on those per
sons coming to the city after their retirement* In Part Three, the
housing situation, economic status and health status are each con
sidered in a chapter. The activities of the retired group constitute
the general subject of Part Four with chapters devoted to recreational
and educational activities, participation in organizations and partici
pation in religious activities* Part Five, composed of only one
chapter, summarizes and concludes this project*


CHAPTER I I
SURVEY OF THE LITERATURE
Writers since antiquity have considered certain aspects of
old age For example, in The Republ ic of Plato, Socrates asks an old
companion, Cephalus, whether or not it is harder living near the end
of life Cephalus answers:
. Men's regrets, and all their protest about oold
hearted relations and so on, come not from their years but
from their makeup; for anyone who is naturally well bal
anced, years are no weight. But to men of the opposite
sort, being young or old are equally causes of trouble*
This point of view is remarkably similar to that held by many students
of the problems of elderly people today. Most discussions of aging be
fore the current century, however, concerned themselves little with
personal adjustment Interest usually centered about describing ster
eotyped personality characteristics of older people, or the medical
aspects of aging, with special emphasis on the possibilities of length
ening the span of life.
Aristotle, in one of his works, gave a dark picture of the
characteristics of elderly men.2 The philosopher stated that they are
sure of nothing and under-do everything. Moreover, they are cynical,
distrustful, small-minded, penurious, querulous, and cowardly. Finally,
* I A. Richards, The Republic of Plato. New York: W. W. Norton
Company, 1942, p. 18.
2
W. D. Ross, Aristotle: Selections. New York: Charles Scrib
ners Sons, 1927, pp. 323 327.
12


13
they love life, but live by memory rather than hope.
Francis Bacon, (1561-1626), discussed longevity at length in
an article called "The History of Life and Death."3 Based on histori
cal and other sources, he made a number of generalizations on the con
ditions conducive to a long life. Among these were the statements that
men lived longer in a cold climate than in one which was warm, that
islanders had a greater life-span than did persons living on continents,
and that men living in high altitudes usually lived to an older age than
did those in low altitudes. Equality and purity of air he believed to
be important for a long life, and he thought that a well-regulated diet
was the most important factor of all. This interesting treatise also
included the prescription for a medicine which was said to be an aid in
the prolongation of life.
An examination of the historical section of Shock's A Class? fied
Biblioqraphy of Gerontology and Geriatrics indicated that most of the
work done in the past century was on the medical aspects of aging, while
the social conditions characteristic of that period of life were almost
completely ignored.4 This situation evidently continued to exist
through at least the first three decades of the present century. Otto
Poliak, writing in 1948, stated:
^Francis Bacon, "The History of Life and Death," in The Works of
Francis Bacon, edited by James Spedding, et al., Boston: Houghton Miffl
Company, No date given, X, pp. 7 284.
4Nathan W. Shock, A Classified Biblioqraphy of Gerontology and
Geriatrics. Stanford: The Stanford University Press, 1951.


14
Except for statistical analyses of older population
groups by demographers and special research by economists
on problems of social security, the exploration and analysis
of the social aspects of aging have been largely neglected
until recently*^
Several reasons may be cited for this neglect* Obviously old
age, or any other segment of life, could not represent a problem for
study until progress and amelioration, or the ability and right of man
to improve his lot, became values in our civilization* Then too, the
scientific emphasis in our culture has only recently led many persons
to the belief that the proper study of a given social situation may be
made only through an objective examination of the individuals in that
situation.
Yet these conditions did exist for many years before the social
aspect of old age and retirement received much consideration* The imme
diate reason for this neglect, then, must have been due largely to the
fact that up to the past two decades it was not generally recognized
that this period of life presented special problems to the individual
in our society, and that the number of persons in the old age and re
tired groups were increasing.
By this time work in this area did begin in earnest, the social
sciences had become differentiated into a number of disciplines, while
specialization in specific subjects by those of each field also had be
come the rule. Projects, then, concerned with the social conditions of
^Otto Pollak, SociaI Ad iustment in 01d Age. New York: Social
Science Research Council, 1948, p* 6.


15
aging, were almost from the beginning rather highly specialized, being
done by men and women in several disciplines, with many points of view,
and on a variety of subjects
To attempt to summarize adequately what has been done, both in
research and in applied programs by social scientists and allied work
ers, would be beyond the scope of this chapter Reference, however,
will be made here to some of the more descriptive and comprehensive
accounts in the general areas which were considered by the present
study, along with reports on particularly pertinent research projects
Social Adjustment in Old Age, by Otto Pol Iak, isa very valuable
volume for anyone contemplating social research in old age or retire
ment6 It is a research planning report, issued by the Social Science
Research Council, which includes a systematic review of needed research
on societal and personal adjustment to old age. A number of areas are
considered, such as family life, making a living, attitudes toward and
adjustments to retirement, as well as the more general fields of demo
graphic analysis and psychological analysis of individual adjustment
There is, in addition, a bibliography in the appendix
Another important aid to research on old age is Shock's A Classi
fied Bib Iiographv of Gerontology and Geriatrics? This is a thorough
bibliography, which includes publications on the medical and biological,
as well as the social aspects of the field
In 1932, P. K. Whelpton, a specialist in population studies,
6lbid.
^Shock, o£. cit


16
was among the first to point out that the number of older persons in
our population was increasing proportionally and absolutely.8 Since
that time a number of individuals have studied this phenomenon* One
of the more recent articles to appear, which covers this subject, along
with other demographic factors related to old age, was written by Henry
Shryock.^
A number of surveys have been concerned with the adjustment of
societal and community organizations and processes to the needs of
elderly persons. Some publications aimed at this objective in the areas
of recreation, religion, housing, and economics are mentioned here.
An excellent source, covering the present programs, problems,
and future needs of recreation for older persons, has been written by
Helen Laue.10 In addition, various issues of Recreation magazine over
the past decade have contained articles describing programs of organized
recreation for this group.
Older People and the Church Is a book reporting on the first
comprehensive attempt to study the relationship of the protestant
churches to persons over 60 years of age.II Both pastoral care and
8P. K. Whelpton, "Increase and Distribution of Elders in our
Population." Amer?can Statistical Association JournaI. supplement (1932),
93.
Q
Henry Shryock, "The Changing Age Profile of the Population," in
The Aged and Society, edited by Milton Derber, Champaign, Illinois: The
Industrial Relations Research Association, 1950, pp. 2 23.
*^Helen Laue, "Recreation Needs and Problems of Older People," in
Planning the Older Years, edited by Wilma Donahue and Clark Tibbetts,
Ann Arbor: The University of AMchigan Press, 1950, pp. 97 -118.
*1 Paul Maves and J. L. Cedarleaf, 01der People and the Church.
New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1949.


17
group work are considered, based upon the experience of the authors
and the results of a survey in a protestant church district*
Little has been published on housing for the elderly person*
Many aspects of this problem, however, are considered in an article by
Hertha Kraus.*2 The need for more adequate housing, particularly for
elders not living in institutions is discussed, along with what already
has been done for this problem both here and abroad. Attention in her
paper is given also to financial arrangements for possible housing pro
grams, as well as to the desirability of companion group apartments
for those of advanced years*
Part II of the Industrial Relations Research Association publi
cation entitled The Aged and Societv contains a number of selections
covering most phases of the present economic situation.13 Included are
discussions of the older person in the labor market, the relations of
industry and unions to the older worker, the question of the desirability
of an arbitrary retirement age, and government and private pension
programs.
The psychological aspects of aging represent another main area
of research. An excellent survey of the accomplishments of workers in
this field was made by Samuel Granick.14 The first of two categories
12
Hertha Kraus, "Housing our Older Citizens," The Annals of the
Academy of Political and SociaI Science. 279 (January 1952) 38 126*
* Hilton Derber, editor, The Aged and Society. Champaign, Illi
nois: The Industrial Relations Research Association, 1950, pp. 56 137.
14
Samuel Granick "Stucfies in the Psychology of SenilityA
Survey," JournaI of Gerontology. 5 (1950), pp. 44 58*


18
into which he divides the projects that have been completed is the
intellectual and learning abilities of these people, which includes
studies of intelligence test performance, memory, vocabulary, reasoning
and related factors, and performance and achievement. The second cate
gory is concerned with studies of personality functioning and adjust
ments, subdivided into personality characteristics and adjustments, and
interests, attitudes, belief, and motivation.
Some research has been done on the broader and generally all-
inclusive subject of personal adjustment to old age; that is, the ad
justment of the elderly individual to his society. One of the first
such studies was conducted by Judson T. Landis in 1940.An interview
survey was made of 450 rural persons of advanced ages in Iowa, divided
according to whether or not they were dependent or independent
financial Iy.
A significant and consistent difference was found between
dependents and non-dependents. Among other things, dependents in this
sample had less education, married earlier, left home earlier, moved
more, and had poorer health on an average than did non-dependents.
Group comparisons were also made on the basis of a composite score.
A significantly larger number of the better adjusted persons were found
to have good health, regular work, and hobbies than those in the poorer
adjusted group. Those with the higher adjustment scores, moreover,
15
Judson T. Landis, "Attitudes and Adjustments of Aged Rural
People in Iowa," Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Louisiana State
University, 1940, cited in the Uni versitv Bulletin. Louisiana State
University. 33 N. S. (1941) 27 29.


19
usually visited one another, attended church, and made plans for the
future to a greater extent than the others.
A good survey of past and current developments in the area of
adjustment in old age is to be found in The Aged and Society,*^
It has been recognized that the changing structure of society,
and specialization on the part of cities, is concentrating elderly per
sons in certain sections of the United States. A sizeable proportion
of these people recently have been finding themselves financially
independent, and free from family and other social ties. This along
with the fact that the general population of the country has been
highly mobile in recent years, has helped to encourage a number of old
people to migrate permanently from their former homes. As a result,
some cities and areas are emerging as retirement cities and retirement
areas,
A number of research projects have touched on this phenomenon.
Demographic studies have been made which either directly or indirectly
reveal the importance and direction of the movements of elderly people,
while several community surveys have thrown light upon the social sit
uation of those members of the older age group living in selected re
tirement centers,
T. Lynn Smith recently made an exploratory study of the migration
^Earnest W. Burgess, "Personal and Social Adjustment in Old Age,"
in The Aged and Society, edited by Milton Derber, Champaign, Illinois:
Industrial Relations Research Association, 1950, pp. 138 156.


20
of older people during the decade between 1930 and 1940^ Using Census
data, he showed that an important movement of elders is taking place to
the west coast and gulf coast of the United States More specifically,
peninsular Florida, southern California, and eastern Texas gained the
largest number of older people in this decade With few exceptions, he
found that counties in which large cities were located had a low propor
tion of aged migrants from elsewhere The smaller cities in the south,
however, did appear to attract significant numbers of these people dur
ing the decade, while the same was true of many state capitals, espe
cially if they were also university towns
The more recent demographic studies have been made which, along
with other things, furnish scientific information of the redistribution
of elders between 1940 and 1950 Homer L. Hitt, by applying procedures
similar to those employed by T. Lynn Smith, to 1940 along with prelimi
nary 1950 census data, gave conclusive evidence that the magnitude of
migration by older people was substantially greater in this period than
it had been during the preceding decadeI 9 By a comparison with Pro
fessor Smith's analysis of the earlier period he found, for example,
that California gained 99,000 migrants over 65 between 1940 and 1950
as compared with 57,000 between 1930 and 1940 The corresponding
*^T Lynn Smith, "The Migration of the Aged," in ProbIems of
America's Aging Population, edited by T. Lynn Smith, Gainesville: The
University of Florida Press, 1951, pp. 15 28.
*Homer L. Hitt, America's Aged at Midcenturv: Number. Dis
tribution. and Pattern of Change. Paper read at the Second Annual
Southern Conference on Gerontology, January 28, 1952


21
figures for Florida were 65,500 and 33,000. Evidently, the general
areas receiving migrants did not change greatly during the latest dec
ade, as Professor Hitt found, in agreement with Professor Smith's ear
lier study, that the states on the gulf coast and the west coast of
the United States were outstanding in this respect* This interesting
paper also contained information on the number and distribution and in
crease of the population over 65 throughout the United States, utilizing
the latest available census figures*
A report of more localized interest for this thesis is Florida's
01 der Population, written by T. Stanton Dietrich.*9 Using a somewhat
different method from that employed by Professor Hitt, Professor
Dietrich estimated that approximately 96,000 persons migrated into
Florida between 1940 and 1950 who were 65 and over in 1950* He pointed
out that this figure represented 40 per cent of Florida's older popu
lation in 1950, and about 16.5 per cent of the estimated 592,000 per
sons of all ages who came to Florida from other areas in the recent dec-
ade*20 other sections of this report dea It with the extent of "old age"
in the Uhited States, and the growth, racial composition, and propor
tion and number of white persons, in Florida's older population*
Taken together, these three studies show conclusively that older
people are becoming more migratory, and that Florida is receiving in
creasingly significant numbers of them*
19
T. Stanton Dietrich, Florida's Older Population. Tallahassee
Florida State Improvement Commission, 1952*
20lbid.. p. 21.


22
One of the first community surveys which has been made of the
aged population in a retirement center was carried out by W. C. McKain
in 1947.21 He chose a California village with a large proportion of
elders who had recently migrated from other states, and concentrated his
attention upon the social participation of these people.
Various means were used to get information, the chief of which
was through personally interviewing a sample of residents over 65.
Along with other findings, this survey showed that older persons in the
village participated less than younger ones in formal and informal ac
tivities, and that health, length of residence, occupation, education,
level of living, marital status, living arrangements, place of birth,
and residential history were related to the extent of social participa
tion.
Professor McKain, with E. D. Baldwin, recently did a similar
study in a Connecticut retirement town.22 Instead of examining ex
haustively one aspect of the social situation of older people, as Pro
fessor McKain did in California, this survey was broader and more des
criptive in scope. Topics included for investigation were the general
characteristics of the older residents, migration, their economic situa
tion, health, agricultural activities, living conditions, family ties,
2*W. C. McKain, "The Social Participation of Old People in a
California Retirement Community," Unpublished doctoral dissertation,
Harvard University, 1947.
22W. C. McKain and Elmer 0. Baldwin, Old Age and Retirement in
Rural Connecticut. J_. East Haddam: A Summer Resort Community. Storrs:
Storrs Agricultural Experiment Station, University of Connecticut,
1951.


23
and leisure-time activities.
During the summer of 1950, Irving L. Webber surveyed the retired
people of the City of St. Petersburg, Florida.23 This work was a unique
contribution in several ways. It was probably the first attempt to
study retired people as a group, rather than Including all those per
sons above an arbitrary age. It was also the first objective inquiry on
the aged migrants who have come in such large number to the gulf coast
of the United States. St. Petersburg, renowned as a mecca for members
of this group, was well selected for such a study.
Sources of data included a sample survey of members of the re
tired group, along with interviews of selected community leaders. The
information obtained was analyzed descriptively in an effort to learn
more of the general economic and social characteristics of the retired
group in this Florida city. While it is difficult to summarize briefly
the findings of a report with such broad objectives, the principal topics
which were examined included the population characteristics of the re
tired group, recreation, organizations, health, housing, economic status,
and their attitudes toward St. Petersburg.
It will be noted that the purposes and scope of the St. Peters
burg study and of this thesis are very similar. An attempt then, has
been made in the survey of West Palm Beach to add to existing knowledge
about retired people through an already existing frame of reference.
23
Irving L. Webber, The Ret?red Population of St. Petersburg.
Its Characteristics and Social Situation. Tallahassee: Florida State
Improvement Commission, 1950.


CHAPTER I I I
THE COM/A UN ITY BACKGROUND
The city of West Palm Beach is located on the lower east coast
of Florida, 283 miles south of Jacksonville, and 66 miles north of
Miami, on U. S. Highway number one The city is long and narrow in
shape, with an area of 15*4 square miles. It is bounded on one side
by a fresh water lake and on the other by Lake Worth, a narrow bay
which separates the island of Palm Beach from the mainland.
The climate of the area is subtropical. According to a re
lease from the West Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce, the mean annual
temperature is 78. The gulf stream is directly offshore along this
part of the coast, and the trade winds create a breeze for the city
during most of the year. In common with almost all coastal areas of
Florida, the topography of the city is low and flat, with an altitude
ranging from sea level to about 18 feet.
South Florida was one of the last sections of the state to be
settled. In 1890 there were only a handful of persons living on Palm
Beach or the area that is now West Palm Beach, Three years later
Henry Flagler, the well-known developer of the Florida east coast, was
attracted to the vicinity. He saw the possibilities of Palm Beach as
an exclusive winter resort, and purchased property on both sides of
Lake Worth, Work was begun immediately on the Royal Poinciana Hotel
on the beach, while his Florida East Coast railroad was being extended
south to the area.
24


25
Flagler intended West Palm Beach to be a railroad station and
service center for the island resort* He laid out a townsite on the
mainland, built roads and other improvements, and instructed his
workers to move there. In 1894, the railroad reached West Palm Beach,
and the community was incorporated during the same year*
Since this time, the city has been characterized by a continu
ous and rapid growth. Table I shows the population of West Palm Beach
for each census year since 1900, as well as the absolute and relative
change between censuses. With only 564 persons reported in 1900, the
city has grown to over 43,000 in 1950. The decade with the greatest
percentage growth was 1910-1920, when the number of inhabitants
swelled from 1,743 to 8,659 for a 396 per cent increase* The next
decade, that of the Florida Boom," showed the largest absolute in
crease. During the 'thirties, with the depression, the population in
crease was both relatively and absolutely smaller than in the period
1920-1930* This was also true of the latest decade, although during
this period slightly more growth was shown than in the inter-censal
period immediately preceding*
Through the years, Palm Beach has become known the country
over as a resort for the rich. West Palm Beach, however, is now more
than a service center for the island, as was Flagler's original intent.
It has become a winter and summer resort in its own right, as well as
a trade and service center for the surrounding agricultural area. To
day the population of the mainland city is more than ten times that of
Palm Beach.
A consideration of some of the basic facts about the population


26
TABLE I
POPULATION OF WEST PAL/A BEACH, FOR CENSUS YEARS FROM 1900 TO 1950*
Year
Population
Increase Over Preceding
Census
Number
Per Cent
1900
564


1910
1,743
1,179
209.0
1920
8,659
6,916
396.0
1930
26,610
17,951
207.3
1940
33,693
7,083
26.6
1950
43,162
9,469
28.1
Source: Bureau of the Census, U. S. Census of Population: 1950.
Vol. I, Number of Inhabitants. Chapter 10: Florida, Washing
ton: Government Printing Office, 1951, p. 9*


27
of the city should furnish a valuable background for this study. As
had already been indicated, West Palm Beach had 43,162 inhabitants in
1950. This made it the eleventh largest city in the state of Florida.
Of this population, a large proportion are Negroes. In 1940,
the time of the last census for which such figures are available, 33.4
per cent of the total group were members of this race.* While practi
cally all of these persons were born here in the United States, a
number of the volites of the community migrated from foreign countries.
Thus foreign born whites constituted nine per cent of the white total
at that time.
Within the total West Palm Beach population there were In 1940
93.3 men for every 100 women. This preponderance of women is not un
usual for an urban area, particularly one with no heavy industry. The
sex ratio for the urban population of Florida in 1940 was 92.3, while
the comparable figure for the United States as a whole was 95.5.
Information on the age characteristics of the people of West
Palm Beach also deserves consideration. A complete, overall picture
of the age distribution of the community by sex may best be obtained
by use of the age-sex pyramid. Such graphs are prepared so that each
bar represents the percentage that an age category by sex is of the
total population represented. Figures I and 2 are pyramids for the
^Unless otherwise specified, the primary source of all popu
lation material presented in the remainder of this chapter is the
Sixteenth Census of the United States. 1940. Population. VoI. II,
Characteristics of the Population. Washington: Government Printing
Office, 1943


28
. Figure I. Age-Sex Pyramid for the White Population of West Palm Beach, 1940#
Source: U. S, Bureau of the Census, Sixteenth Census of the United States.
1940. Population. Vol. II, Characteristics of the Population. Washington:
Government Printing Office, 1943, part 2, p. 128.


29
"-*r
Figure 2. Age-Sex Pyramid for the Non-White Population of West Palm
Beach, 1940
Source: U. S. Bureau of the Census, Sixteenth Census of the Uni ted
States. 1940. Population. Vo I II, Character isric5~^T~~tT?g Fgffl frf iffri.
Washington: Government Printing Office, 1943, part 2, p. 128.


30
white and non~white population of West Palm Beach. These graphs
clearly show a preponderance of people in the working age groups. A
low birth rate for the city, or a heavy migration to it, or both is
suggested by the relatively small group in the younger age groups of
both races. The differences between the white and Negro figures are
striking. There is a very much smaller proportion of aged persons in
the Negro than in the white group, and this seems to have been made up
by a larger proportion of negroes in the working ages. Most of this
racial difference probably was caused by a large migration of working
age Negroes into the city.
The birth and death rates and migration determine the changes
in size of a population over a given period. Birth rates are often
measured by an index known as the fertility ratio. This is the number
of children under 5, divided by the number of women aged 20-44. In
1940 this ratio for West Palm Beach was 241, which was almost the same
as the Florida urban value. Both of these, however, were somewhat be
low the ratio of 310 obtained for the urban population of.the entire
United States.
The death rate may be measured in a number of ways, all of
which depend upon state registration data. The crude death rate is
the number of recordeddeaths divided by the total population of an
area, times 1000. It is not very satisfactory for comparative purposes,
but is the most simple index to construct. In 1940 this rate was 10.6
for West Palm Beach, and 13.1 for all Florida cities of 10,000 to


31
100,000 population.2 These differences could simply reflect variations
in age distributions. At any rate it can probably be said that the
West Palm Beach rates are not excessively higher than would be expected
for a city of this size*
With a low birth rate, at least up to recent years, and a death
rate that does not appear to be excessively low or high, the population
of West Palm Beach would be expected to decline, if there were no move
ment into the area. The tremendous growth of the city then can be al
most entirely attributed to migration. This great influx of people is
very significant in an interpretation of the city's social phenomena*
For one thing it means that the population is very heterogeneous with
regard to origin within the United States*
An indication of this is given in a study made in 1942 by J. R.
Holt, of the part-time employment of Palm Beach High School students.3
For this project, questionnaires were distributed to 427 boys and girls
in the commercial and diversified training departments of the white
public high school* It was found that of this group of young people,
47 per cent were born in other states, 19 per cent in other parts of
Florida and only 30 per cent in the city of West Palm Beach* Thus over
half of the children in this sample belonged to families who were
2
Federal Security Agency, United States Public Health Service,
VitaI Statistics of the Uni ted States. 1940. Part 11, Washington:
U. S* Government Printing Office, 1943, p. 24, 182.
^Jonathan R. Holt, "A Study of the Part Time Employment of Palm
Beach High School students," Unpublished M. A* Thesis, Gainesville:
University of Florida, 1942*


32
relatively recent migrants
The Florida State Census of 1945 is another source which points
to the heterogeneity of the origins of those persons living in West
Palm Beach. In the published report of this enumeration, the nativity
of the residents of Florida was tabulated by counties4 Of the 66,767
persons reported for Palm Beach County at that time, only 27 per cent
were born in Florida About the same proportion of this group stated
that they had originated in some other southeastern state, while about
40 per cent gave one of the northern states as their places of birth
The remaining county residents at that time were tabulated as foreign
born or as originally coming from one of the western states.
That West Palm Beach has functioned mainly as a trade and
service center, at least in recent years, is indicated by industry
group employment percentages from the 1940 census, which are tabulated
in Table 2. Here it is seen that more than half of the labor force of
15,192 at that time was reported in the wholesale and retail trade and
the personal service industry classifications. The Urban United States
classification, put in for comparison, shows that a greater proportion
of the labor force of West Palm Beach was working in these two indus
tries, as well as construction, than was the comparable group in all of
the nation's cities. The fact that almost one third of the West Palm
Beach workers were in the personal services at that time, as compared
to 10 per cent of the workers in the United States category, seems
^The Seventh Census of the State of Florida. 1945. Tallahassee?,
State Department of Agriculture? No date given, p. 91 120.


33
TABLE 2
PERCENTAGE DISTRIBUTION OF PERSONS IN THE LABOR FORCE, BY
INDUSTRY GROUPS, WEST PALM BEACH AND UNITED STATES
URBAN POPULATIONS, 1940*
Industry Group
West Palm Beach
Urban U. S.
Agriculture and mining
1.9
2.1
Construction
7.9
4.8
Manufacturing
4.8
29.2
Transportation, Communica
tion, Uti1ities
6.1
8.7
Wholesale and Retail Trade
26.3
21.4
Finance, Insurance, and
Real Estate
4.5
4.6
Business and Repair Services
2.5
2.2
Personal Service
30.4
10.8
Amusement and Recreation
2.8
1.2
Professional and Related
7.6
8.6
Government Work
3.2
4.7
Not Reported
2.0
1.5
Source: U. S, Bureau of the Census, Sixteenth Census of the Uni ted
States. 1940. Populat ion. Vol II, Character istics of the
Population. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1943,
Part 2, p. 130 and Part I, p. 49#


34
particularly significant, along with the much greater proportion of
individuals engaged in manufacturing in urban areas over the country
than in the Florida city*
The importance of West Palm Beach as a residential center for
older people is highly pertinent to this study of the retired* Age
data from the 1940 census helps to give some perspective on this func
tion of the city* At the time 6*9 per cent of the total population
was 65 years of age or older. The 1940 age sex pyramids for the city,
introduced earlier in this chapter, showed the whites to have a much
greater representation proportionally in the older categories than did
the Negroes* Viewed another way, only 2.2 per cent of the total Negro
population of West Palm Beach at that time had reached their sixty-
fifth birthday, but 9.9 per cent of the white group could be classified
in this way*
To help illustrate the relative importance of the aged white
population in West Palm Beach, as compared to other segments of the
population within the United States Figure 3 has been prepared, using
index numbers. With this technique, one of the populations is taken
as the base to which the others are related* The percentage distribu
tion by age for each population is first obtained. Then, age by age,
the populations separately are made proportional to the base popula
tion, while the base population is a straight line across the page*
It will be noted in Figure 3 that the U. S. white urban popu
lation is taken as the base, while the Florida white urban population,
the St. Petersburg white population and the West Palm Beach white popu
lation are used for comparison.


LEGEND
U.3. White Urban Population 100
Florida White Urban
St. Petersburg White
West Palm Beach V/hite

Index
Numbers
04
VJl
0 5
Age
10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75
Figure 3* Index Numbers of Ages, for Selected White Urban Populations, 1940*
Source: U. S. Bureau of the Census, Sixteenth Census of the Uni ted States. 1940. Population
VoI II, Characteristics of the Population. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1943.


36
It is immediately obvious that all three of these groups have
a more important aged population than the United States as a whole.
All are above the 100 line beyond the age of 55. All three are also
below the line for ages less than thirty, showing a smaller proportional
number of younger persons in these groups as compared to the base.
In checking the extent of concentration of the aged for the
three Florida populations, the importance of this group in the city
of St. Petersburg stands out. Its line is lower than the others at the
younger ages, and does not cross 100 until the 40 44 age group, 10
years after the West Palm Beach and the Florida urban white segments.
After this the line for St. Petersburg soars above the others, reaching
a peak index number of 275 for the ages 70 74. This means that the
percentage of the total white population of St. Petersburg in this age
group is more than three times that of the same age group for the urban
white population of the entire United States.
By contrast with St. Petersburg, urban Florida and West Palm
Beach appear rather similar and remain close to the United States base
line. West Palm Beach has a higher proportion of its white population
in the aged and working age groups than does the Florida urban segment,
with a corresponding lower proportion in the younger intervals, but the
difference is slight. The fact that the Florida white urban segment
contains many cities obviously not functioning as centers for the aged,
and enjoying relatively high birth rates, would tend to show that West
Palm Beach is not nearly so important a haven for those in later years
as are many other Florida cities.


37
The recent origin of West Palm Beach, its tremendously rapid
growth, the racial and geographical heterogeneity of its people, its
general functions, and importance as a residential center for the aged,
are all important factors to be remembered in interpreting this study
of the retired group.


PART TWO
THE RETIRED POPULATION


CHAPTER IV
COMPOSITION
The examination of certain personal attributes should be

basic to any study of a population* Demographers recognize this fact,
and all modern census reports contain some tabulations on age, sex,
marital status, nativity, and other similar characteristics. The
respondents in the West Palm Beach survey of retired persons were asked
several questions of this nature in such a way that the information
could be tabulated for the total sample group. Some of the results
obtained will be discussed in this chapter*
Perhaps no other personal characteristic exerts more influence
on the roles played on the status enjoyed by an individual in our
society than does age* Retirement, for instance, which marks for many
a complete change in life, is often forced on the individual due to
limitations of advanced years*
That most of the retired persons of West Palm Beach are found
to be in the older age groups, is certainly not surprising* The median
age for the sample of 202 was 69.3 years. It is a mistake, however,
to think that all the retired are older people. Table 3 indicates that
this at least is not the case in one Florida city, with eligible per
sons interviewed in al I age groups down to and including the 35 to 39
year interval. It is interesting to note that most studies of the
older population of the United States are limited to those persons
above 65. In West Palm Beach 35 per cent of the sample group reported
38


39
TABLE 3
AGE DISTRIBUTION OF THE TOTAL SAMPLE, BY SEX,
WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Age Groups
Frequencies
Total
Male
Female
35 39
2
1
1
40 44
3
1
2
45 49
6
3
3
50 54
9
4
5
55 59
19
8
1 1
60 64
32
8
24
65 69
35
15
20
70 74
37
16
21
75 79
31
12
19
80 84
17
10
7
85 89
7
4
3
90 94
1
1
0
Age Not Ascertained
3
1
2
TOTAL
202
84
118


40
ages below this figure.
A comparison of the age distribution by sex shows that the
women were slightly younger than the men on an average. Thus, median
ages for the male and female segments were close together, but the
value for the males was higher, with 70.6 and 68.2 for the sexes
respectively.
Another difference in the age distribution by sex for the total
sample is that the females were grouped about the median age to a some
what greater extent than the males. Thus, while 61 per cent of the 84
males were between the ages of 60 and 79, 71 per cent of the 118 females
were in this category.
/tore persons were listed as being between the ages of 70 and
74 than in any other age group. This was true of both sexes, with 16
males and 21 females, or a total of 37 reported in this segment.
Of the 202 retired persons in the sample, 84 were men and 118
were women. Thus the sex ratio, 71 males per 100 females, was low. It
will be remembered that the corresponding figure for the total popula
tion of West Palm Beach in 1940 was 93.3.
Table 4 gives the marital status of the sample by sex. It is
seen that 60 per cent of the group was married, and one-third widowed.
Very few declared themselves to be single or divorced, as these seg
ments made up 4 and 1.4 per cent of the total sample respectively.
More than three-fourths of the men were married as compared to only one-
half of the women. On the other hand, over forty per cent of the females
were widowed, with less than twenty per cent of the men classed as


41
TABLE 4
MARITAL STATUS OF THE TOTAL SAMPLE, BY SEX,
WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Total
Ma 1 e
Fema1e
Marital Status
Number
Per
Cent
Number
Per
Cent
Number
Per
Cent
Married
124
61.4
64
76.1
60
50.9
MarriedNot
with Spouse
2
1.0
1
1.2
1
0.8
Widowed
65
32.3
16
19.1
49
41.5
S i ng 1 e
8
4.0
3
3.6
5
4.3
Divorced
3
1.4


3
2.5
TOTAL
202
100.0
84
100.0
118
100.0


42
widowers. The fact that men are more likely to remarry no doubt helps
to explain these differences.
Chapter III underscored the heterogeneity of the origins of
the people of West Palm Beach, and mentioned that the city appeared
to function to some degree as a residential center for older people
from other areas. Therefore it is not surprising to note on Figure 4
that the places of birth of the retired people in the total sample
varied widely in geographic location. Only one person was born in West
Palm Beach, only 12 in Florida and 45, less than one-fourth, in the
southeastern states. The map shows that the largest number came origi
nally from New York, followed by Pennsylvania, Illinois, Florida,
Georgia, Ohio, and Indiana.
A comparison, using Odum's regions of the United States, gives
results that are meaningful.* The northeast leads these areas, con
taining states that were reported by 35 per cent of the total sample,
followed by the southeast with 22 per cent and the middle states with
20 per cent. Evidently few of the retired persons living in West Palm
Beach were born in the west. Only six persons, or 2.8 per cent of the
total sample originally came from the northwest region and only one was
born in a far western state. None of this group was born in the
southwest.
The foreign born constitute an important part of the sample.
*A map delineating these regions will be found in the appendix.
Taken from Howard W. Odum, Southern Reqions of the Uni ted States. Chapel
Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1936, p. 246.


.Figure 4. State of Birth of Members of the Total Sample, West Palm Beach, 1951.


44
Eighteen per cent, or about one in six of the 202 retired persons
about which information was obtained reported some country other than
the United States as their place of birth. Of this group, six persons
were born in Canada, one in the British West Indies, and the other
thirty- one in various European nations.
Whether or not a person is actively affiliated with a church,
his religious background often exerts a great influence on his atti
tudes and actions Religious preference is therefore an important
characteristic to consider.
Evidently most of the retired people of West Palm Beach are
Protestants. Table 5 indicates that 85.6 per cent of the respondents
gave this preference, while li.4 per cent were listed as Catholic,
two per cent as Jewish, and one per cent in the "Other" category. An
analysis by sex shows a slightly higher proportion of men than women
in the Protestant group, with the reverse holding true for the Catholic
classification.
Some amount of formal education has become almost essential
for survival in our complex urban way of life. Many years of academic
training, moreover, often are necessary for responsible positions in
society. Much of our cultural heritage is passed down to new genera
tions through the school. The amount of schooling which a person
masters is a basic factor, therefore, in determining his function and
status as well as greatly influencing his actions and attitudes.
The number of years of school completed was obtained for the
persons in the total sample group. In analyzing these data, it was


45
TABLE 5
RELIGIOUS PREFERENCE OF THE TOTAL SAMPLE, BY SEX,
WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Total
Male
Fema 1 e
Religious Preference
Number
Per
Cent
Number
Per
Cent
Number
Per
Cent
Protestant
174
85.6
74
88.1
88
83.9
Catholic
23
11.4
7
8.3
16
13.6
Jewish
4
2.0
1
1.2
3
2.5
Other
2
1 .0
2
2.4

TOTAL
202
100.0
84
00.0
118
100.0


46
found that the median years of school completed by these people was
9.9. This is a high figure for a group who attended school from
thirty to seventy years ago. In fact the median for the total white
population of the United States in 1940 was only 8.4.2
The difference by sex was also unusual, with medians of 10.3
for the men and 9.5 for the women. Usually women show up higher than
men in measures of educational status.
Table 6 is a classification of the amount of schooling com
pleted by members of the total sample. Here it is shown that about
one in four of this group completed less than eight grades. Of the
almost three-fourths who finished more than 8 grades, half, or 36 per
cent of the total, finished high school. Only 15, or 7.5 per cent of
the 202 members of the total sample completed four or more years of
col Iege.
Table 6 also consistently shows the sex differences first re
vealed by the medians. Proportionately more men than women had com
pleted more than eight grades, more than twelve grades, and more than
four years of college, while the reverse was true for those attending
school less than eight years.
In this chapter certain personal attributes of the West Palm
Beach retired population have been discussed. The median age for the
sample group was shown to be 69.3, with individual reports ranging from
2
U. S. Bureau of the Census, Sixteenth Census of the Uni ted
States. 1940. Population. VoI II, Characteristics of the Population.
Washington: Government Printing Office, 1943, Part I, P. 40.


47
TABLE 6
EDUCATIONAL STATUS OF PERSONS IN THE TOTAL SAMPLE, BY SEX,
WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Total
Ma le
Fema1e
Educational Status
Number
Per
Cent
Number
Per
Cent
Number
Per
Cent
Less Than Eight
Grades
47
25.3
19
22.6
28
23.8
Eight or More
Grades
149
73.8
63
75.3
86
72.8
Twelve or More
Grades
74
36.6
31
37.0
43
36.4
Four Years Col lege
or More
15
7.4
10
11.9
5
4.2


48
38 to 92 years. It was pointed out that approximately one-third are
under 65.
There are more retired women than men living in the city with
a sex ratio of about 74 for this group. Approximately one-half of the
people in the group are married, and one-third widowed. Proportionally,
more men are married and fewer widowed than is true for the women.
The places of birth of these people varied widely in geographic
location. Only about one person in twenty was born in Florida, while
about one in four originated in another southeastern state. About one-
half of the individuals in the group were born in a northern state, and
one-fifth in foreign countries.
Over three-fourths of the retired people are Protestants, and
most of the remainder are Catholic. There was only a very small number
of persons of the Jewish faith in the sample group.
About one-half of the retired persons have completed nine grades
of schooling, and almost one-third have graduated from high school.
These proportions seem somewhat high for those who received their for
mal education from thirty to seventy years ago.


CHAPTER V
THE RETIREMENT PROCESS
In studying a group of people it is not always sufficient to
learn something about their present characteristics, activities and
attitudes. Often data about the past of these persons also are ne
cessary to help complete the picture. Little information of a histori
cal nature was obtained from the West Palm Beach sample. The only
period in the past life of this group which was examined to any extent
was the time of their retirement.
For purposes of analysis, retirement may be considered a pro
cess, or period of change, through which individuals or couples pass.
It involves the cessation of work, in his main lifetime occupation, by
the principal wage earner of each family, as well as persons living
outside family groups.
By this definition, every member of the total sample group of
the West Palm Beach survey went through the retirement process at a
certain place and definite time. While the place of retirement for
the group will be considered indirectly in the chapter on migration,
this section will take up the time of this change, along with the pre
vious occupations of wage earners, and the principal reasons given by
this group for retirement.
Retirement has been a very recent event for at least one-half
of the sample group. Ninety-six of these 202 persons, comprising 47,5
per cent of the total, retired after 1945, Another 22,3 per cent were
49


50
in families in which the head ceased active working life between 1941
and 1945. Thus seven out of ten persons in the sample had entered
retirement status within the ten year period previous to the survey.
Out of the remaining 30 per cent one-half, or 15 per cent of the total
retired between 1930-40, and another nine per cent of the total between
1920-30, while one person entered this status in 1918. Information on
the time of retirement was not ascertained for ten persons, making five
per cent of the total group.
There were 140 principal wage earners for the members of West
Palm Beach sample, consisting of 122 men and 18 women. All of the 84
men in the present group were principal wage earners, while 38 men,
who were husbands of women in the sample, died previous to the survey.
The 18 women who were principal wage earners were ail in the pre
sent sample. Six were single or divorced, while the other 12 took on
the main employment obligation for their families on the death of
their husbands.
These wage earners were engaged in a wide variety of occupations
before their retirement as is clearly shown in Table 7. There it is
seen that 118 different means of livelihood were recorded for this
group of 140 persons*
Closer examination discloses that the occupations ranged from
bank president to day laborer. While it is difficult to classify
them in a meaningful way, perhaps a few observations can be made. When
divided into the rough dichotomy of "white collar" and "trade and
labor" workers, a few over half were found in the first group. Of this


51
TABLE 7
FORMER OCCUPATIONS OF PR INCI PAL WAGE EARNERS
WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Occupation
Total
Ma 1 e
Fema1e
Accountant (CPA)
1
1
0
Animal Hide Broker
1
1
0
Artist
1
1
0
Assistant Superintendent, Public Works
1
1
0
Auger Bit Maker
1
1
0
Automatic Signal Operator, Railroad
1
1
0
Barber
1
1
0
Bricklayer
1
1
0
Builder, Homes, and Real Estate Development
1
1
0
Butler
2
2
0
Buyer, Liquor Store
1
0
1
Carpenter
3
3
0
Cashier, Bank
1
1
0
Cashier, Restaurant
1
0
1
Chiropractor
1
1
0
Cigar Maker
1
1
0
Clerk, Grocery Store
1
0
1
Clerk, Army Quartermaster Corps,
1
1
0
Contractor
1
1
0
Contractor, Building
4
4
0
Contractor, Electrical
1
1
0
Contractor, Painting
1
1
0
Cook, Pastry
2
0
2
Dealer, Wholesale Vegetables
1
1
0
Electrician
2
2
0
Electro-typer
I
1
0
Engineer, Civil
2
2
0
Engineer, Electrical
1
1
0
Engineer, Maintenance
1
1
0
Enlisted Man, Army
1
1
0
Executive, Bank (President)
1
1
0
Executive Food Industry (Vicj President)
1
1
0
Executive, Insurance Company
I
1
0
Executive, Newspaper
1
0
1
Fireman, City Fire Department
2
2
0
Foreman, Construction
1
1
0
Foreman, Pattern Shop
1
1
0
Funeral Director
1
1
0
Gardener
2
2
0
Gardener, (Yard Man)
1
1
0
Sub Total
51
45
6


52
TABLE 7
Continued
Occupation
Total
Male
Fema1e
Sub Total Forward
51
45
6
Gun Smith
2
2
0
Housekeeper, Hotel
1
0
1
Importer
1
1
0
Interior Decorator
1
1
0
Iron Worker, Construction
1
1
0
Laborer, Farm
1
1
0
Laundry Worker
1
0
1
Lawyer
1
1
0
Mail Carrier
1
1
0
Mail Dispatcher, Post Office
1
1
0
Manager, Dining Room and Hotel
1
0
1
Manager, Wholesale Drug Business
1
1
0
Manager, Woolen Mill
1
1
0
Medical Doctor (Surgeon)
1
1
0
Mechanic
1
1
0
Moulder, Iron Industry
1
1
0
Officer, Air Force
1
1
0
Officer, Army
1
1
0
Operator, Bakery
1
1
0
Operator, Farm
2
2
0
Operator, Truck Farm
1
1
0
Optometrist
1
1
0
Owner, Bank
1
1
0
Owner-Operator, Butcher Shop
1
1
0
Owner-Operator, Cigar Store
1
1
0
Owner-Operator, Department Store
1
1
0
Owner-Operator, Elevator Repair Service
1
1
0
Owner-Operator, Feed Store
1
1
0
Owner-Operator, General Store
1
1
0
Owner-Operator, Grocery Store
2
2
0
OwneiOperator, Local Bus Line
1
1
0
Owner-Operator. Millinery Store
1
0
1
Owner-Operator, Motel and Gas Station
1
1
0
Owner-Operator, Office Supply Company
1
1
0
OwneiOperator, Oil Supply Company
1
1
0
Owner-Operator, Printing and Engraving Plant
1
1
0
Sub Total
90
80
10


53
TABLE 7
Continued
Occupation
Total
Male
Fema1e
Sub Total Forward
90
80
10
Owner-Operator, Restaurant
1
1
0
Owner-Operator, Wholesale Lumber Business
1
1
0
Painter
1
1
0
Pattern Maker, Tool
1
1
0
Pharmicist, Owner, Drug Store
1
1
0
Photographer
1
1
0
Pilot, Air Line
1
1
0
PI umber
2
2
0
Po1iceman
1
1
0
Principal, Public School
2
1
1
Real Estate Broker
3
3
0
Road Builder, Municipal
1
1
0
Sales Manager
1
1
0
Salesman, Coal Business
1
1
0
Salesman, Dairy Business
1
1
0
Salesman, Hardware
1
1
0
Salesman, Insurance
1
1
0
Salesman, Motor Truck
1
1
0
Salesman, Paint and Varnish
1
1
0
Salesman, Real Estate
1
1
0
Salesman, Show
1
1
0
Salesman, Wholesale Confections
1
1
0
Salesman, Wholesale Grocery
2
2
0
Seamstress
1
0
1
Seamstress (Dressmaker)
3
0
3
Secretary
1
0
1
Sign Painter
1
1
0
Station Agent, Railroad
1
1
0
Statistician, Air Force
1
1
0
Steamer, Woolen Mill
1
1
0
Steamfitter
1
1
0
Stone Mason
1
1
0
Superintendent, Apartment Building
1
1
0
Superintendent, Paving Company
1
1
0
Teacher, Junior Col 1ege
1
1
0
Teacher, Public School
2
1
1
Tool and Die Maker
1
1
0
Sub Total
135
1 18
17


54
TABLE 7
Continued
Occupation
Total
Male
Fema1e
Sub Total Forward
135
118
17
Veterinarian
1
1
0
Watchman
1
1
0
Watchman, Millionaires Home
1
1
0
Worker, Sheet Metal
1
1
0
Never Worked
1
0
1
TOTAL
140
122
18


55
"white collar" group, there seem to be few persons who were in the
professions. Only one doctor and one lawyer appear, with five report
ing that they had worked in the teaching field. Altogether there were
about 12 individuals who could fall into the professional category.
There were also in the "white collar group", a few executives and
managers of business enterprises of all sizes. The largest single
number in this segment, however, are those who were the owners and
operators of their own businesses, which were mostly in the area of
retail trade. The next largest number includes the people who used to
be in clerical and sales work.
Of the persons in the trade and laboring group, the largest
number appear to have been in the skilled and semi-skilled trades.
There were a few foremen listed and several service workers, such as
cooks, firemen, etc. Only about half a dozen persons reported occupa
tions normally considered to be common labor*
It might be added here that according to another question on
the schedule 51 of the 140 principal wage earners, or 36 per cent of
the total, were self employed before retirement. One of the important
facets of this statistic is that self-employed persons often are able
to go through the retirement process gradually, which may make for an
easier adjustment than would an abrupt stoppage of work.
The industry groups reported for the principal wage earners at
the time of retirement have been classified according to the United
States Census breakdown, in Table 8. It may be noted that wholesale
and retail trade is the most important category, with 20.8 per cent of


56
TABLE 8
INDUSTRY GROUP DISTRIBUTION OF OCCUPATIONS OF PRINCIPAL
WAGE EARNERS, WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Industry Group
Frequency
Percentage
Agriculture
4
2.8
Construction
22
15.8
Manufacturing
14
10.0
Transportation, Communication,
Utilities
7
5.0
Wholesale and Retail Trade
29
20.8
Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate
8
5.7
Business and Repair Services
4
2.8
Personal Services
23
16.4
Professional and Related
10
7.2
Government
10
7.2
None
1
0.7
Not Ascertained
2
1.4
TOTAL
140
100.0


57
the 140 wage earners* This Is followed by Personal Services, construc
tion work, and government work, and manufacturing, In that order.
Some similarities are seen when this tabulation is compared
with the same type of classification for the total labor force in West
Palm Beach in 1940, which was discussed in Chapter III* In both cases,
wholesale and retail trade and domestic service are the dominant indus
tries, though this is not as pronounced with the sample group* Two
notable differences between the groups are the greater proportion of
those in the sample who were engaged in manufacturing, and in govern
ment work, as compared to the total West Palm Beach labor force a
decade ago* These variations probably reflect the different industry
group array for those wage earners included in the sample who spent
their working lives outside of West Palm Beach. Generalizations, how
ever, are risky, due among other things, to the different age and sex
distribution of the two groups.
The reasons why people retire is of paramount consideration in
the study of this process. Retirement is a change not always taken
voluntarily* In fact, it is common knowledge that many retired people
would continue work indefinitely if they had their choice* Some factor
or combination of factors then, has forced these persons to leave
active working life.
Voluntary retirement was certainly not usual for the West Palm
Beach sample group. The reasons given for the retirement of principal
wage earners from their occupations as tabulated in Table 9, all indi
cated involuntary retirement except one. This, the "tired of working"


58
TABLE 9
REASONS FOR THE RETIREMENT OF PRINCIPAL WAGE EARNERS,
WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Reason
Frequency
Percentage
Reached Compulsory Retirement Age
8
5.7
Forced Out of Business, or Lost Job
9
6.4
Poor Health or Physical Disability
68
48.7
Retired Due to Needs of Family Member
8
5.7
Entered Retirement Status on Husband's
Death
22
15.7
Tired of Working
9
6.4
Other and Not Specified
15
10.7
Never Worked
1
0.7
TOTAL
140
100.0


59
category, contains only nine persons, to make up 6*4 per cent of the
principal wage earners. Actually II of the "other and not specified
group probably also retired voluntarily increasing the percentage who
were able to make this choice to 14.3.
Health appears to be the main factor causing forced retirement,
according to the table. It is seen that almost half of the wage earners
gave some reason connected with physical infirmities. This group in
cludes those forced to retire due to chronic illnesses or disabilities,
as well as a number whose faculties had become impaired so as to pre
vent them from carrying on their occupations.
Much has been written concerning the policies of employers
toward older workers. It has been pointed out that age is often a
poor index of ability in later maturity. For this reason, the desira
bility of the practice of forced retirement at an arbitrary age has been
questioned.*
Although this practice has received much attention, it
evidently was a cause of retirement for only a small group of wage
earners connected with the sample group. Only eight of these persons,
comprising 5.7 per cent of the total of 140, were reported to have been
required to stop work by their employers due to reaching an arbitrary
age limit.
Other economic reasons were central in forcing the retirement
*0tto Pollak, Social Adjustment in 01d Age. New Yorks Social
Science Research Council, 1948, 105-106.


60
of nine persons in the sample. Six of these were operating their own
businesses and felt more or less forced to retire when these failed or
ran into difficulties. The other three lost their jobs for one reason
or another, and were unable to obtain new work because of their advanced
age.
Another eight persons, making about 6 per cent of the total,
retired in order to give assistance to some member of the family.
Several, for instance, terminated their main lifetime occupations in
order to move south for the health of their wives.
Twenty-two men who died while working are included in the wage
earner group, because this event caused their wives, who are members
of the sample, to enter retirement status. This segment makes up 23
per cent of the 140 wage earners.
A brief look at the persons in the sample who were not princi
pal wage earners is desirable. This group consists of 100 females, as
it will be remembered that all 84 of the men in the sample were con
sidered principal wage earners, along with 18 women.
Most of the 100 women were and still are to some extent engaged
in their own home house-work. Thus retirement for them did not mean an
end of a main lifetime occupation. It will be recognized, however,
that retirement should nevertheless have marked important life changes
of most of these persons. This would certainly be true of the 22 women
of the group of 100 who were forced to enter this status on the death
of their spouses. Atost of the other 78 would have had to share, or at
least feel the indirect influence, of the impact of this process upon


61
their husbands In addition, changes in such things as social status
and income due to retirement would naturally affect whole families,
including the members of this group
In this chapter, some facts have been presented which relate
to the actual retirement of the group under investigation Approxi
mately one-half of the total West Palm Beach group have retired since
1945, and about three-fourths since 1940 The principal wage earners
of the families of retired people living in the city previously were
engaged in a wide variety of occupations, about equally divided be
tween the "white collar" and the "trade and labor" groups. Evidently,
a large number of them were small business men, in clerical and sales
work, or in the skilled and semi-skilled trades, with a few professional
men and some common laborers included in the group
Almost all of these principal wage earners were forced to leave
their main lifetime occupations against their wills. Health was the
factor which led most of these persons into involuntary retirement*
Very few were forced to leave their jobs due to reaching a compulsory
retirement age set by their employers Some of the widows living in the
city many be considered to have entered the retired status at the death
of their husbands.
Retirement should have marked important life changes for all
the members of the retired group, including those who were not princi
pal wage earners at that time.


CHAPTER VI
MIGRATION
Migration is a phenomenon of great social significance* The
influx of persons from one or many cultural backgrounds can have a
tremendous effect upon the social processes and structure of a given
society, as well as upon its population size and composition.
In Chapter III the importance of migration to the city of
West Palm Beach was emphasized as the main cause of its remarkable
growth, and an influencing factor in other of the city's characteristics.
It was thus not surprising to note in the following chapter that all
but one of the persons contained in the sample moved to this city some
time after his birth.
The present discussion, however, is focused mainly upon a
special type of migration, which has become really important on a
national scale only within the past two decades. This is the movement
of persons, after their retirement, to a new permanent home. As was
stated in the introduction, the recognition of the importance of the
recent migration of retired persons into Florida was one of the salient
reasons for carrying out this study.
The results of the sample survey indicate that a large propor
tion of the retired people in West Palm Beach moved to that city after
their retirement. This was true of 131 or 65 per cent of the total
sample group. Further research, however, may show conclusively that
this proportion is low as compared to several other Florida cities. It
62


63
will be remembered that the age data in Chapter III seemed to indicate
that West Palm Beach does not have as great a proportion of older per
sons as some other Florida cities. This is especially true in compar
ing West Palm Beach to St. Petersburg, according to that analysis.
Further evidence is revealed in the fact that 91 per cent of the sample
in the survey of St. Petersburg's retired people spent their working
years in some other area.I
A comparison of the approximate time that the retired members
of the sample moved to West Palm Beach is given in Table 10. In this
tabulation the data are further subdivided to show the number who were
retired at the time of migration to the city and the number retiring
subsequently to the migration. It is seen that some persons who moved
to this city before their retirement did so as early as 1910, while
others of this segment migrated within the five year period prior to
the survey. The largest number of the group, however, arrived in the
city early in their working lives, with almost one-half coming in the
period 1916 to 1925. It is interesting to note that these years
closely correspond to the time of the city's greatest growth.
By contrast, most of the individuals coming to West Palm
Beach after their retirement did so within recent years. Seventy-nine
of the 131 persons in the segment, comprising 60 per cent of the total,
moved to the Florida city between 1946 and 1950. Only ten per cent of
* Irving L. Webber, The Retired Population of St. Petersburg
It's Characteristics and Social Situation. Tallahasseei Florida State
Improvement Commission, 1951, p. 26.


64
TABLE 10
NUMBER OF YEARS WHICH MEMBERS OF THE TOTAL SAMPLE LIVED IN
WEST PALM BEACH, BY RESIDENCE BEFORE RETIREMENT,
WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Years
Total
Lived in
West Palm Beach
Before Retirement
Lived Elsewhen
Before
Retirement
Number
Per
centage
Number
Per
centage
Number
Per
centage
0-4
85
42.1
6
8.4
79
60.3
5-9
27
13.4
2
2.8
25
19.1
10 14
20
9.9
5
7.0
15
11.5
15 19
1 1
5.4
3
4.2
8
6.1
20 24
8
4.0
6
8.4
2
1.5
25 29
25
12.4
23
32.4
2
1.5
30 34
10
4.9
10
14.2

35 39
7
3.5
7
9.8


40 up
6
3.0
6
8.5


Not Ascer-
ta!ned
3
1.4
3
4.2

TOTAL
202
100.0
71
100.0
131
100.0


65
the post-retirement migrants settled in West Palm Beach before 1936
While mortality rates would have to be considered before
definite conclusions could be made, these data indicate that the move
ment of people already retired into West Palm Beach is taking place at
an increasing rate.
Knowledge about the places which the 202 retired persons in the
total sample lived before they retired is essential for an understand
ing of post-retirement migration. The map which is Figure 5 gives
this information by states* Seventy one persons, making up 35 per cent
of the total group, lived in West Palm Beach before retirement, while
13 others lived elsewhere in Florida. The remaining 118 persons moved
from another state to take up permanent residence in the city under
examination. New York, with 27, was the previous home of the greatest
number of persons in the sample, followed by Pennsylvania and Illinois,
both of which contained 15 persons, and Florida* Massachusetts is
next with eight persons reporting it as the state they lived in
before retirement, followed by New Jersey with seven and Connecticut
with six* Ohio was the previous residence of five of the group, while
each of 13 other states, all but two of which are east of the Mississippi,
was the home of three, two, or one sample member during his working
years* Canada is the only foreign country represented, with one person
in the sample listing it as his place of residence before retirement*
When tabulated according to Odum's Regions, these data show


Figure 5. State of Previous Residence of Those in the Total Sample Who Moved to the City
After Retirement, West Palm Beach, 1951*


67
that over half of the persons who migrated after their retirement came
from the northeast.2 A little over 20 per cent of these 131 persons
came from all parts of the southeast except West Palm Beach, with about
the same proportion of the individuals in this segment reporting that
they lived in one of the middle states before the principal wage earner
of their family ceased work.
While knowing the state and region in which the sample group
lived before retirement is very important in understanding the retired
population of West Palm Beach a consideration of the type of area in
which the person previously resided is of equal significance. The
difference between rural and urban life, and between urban life in
cities of different sizes, is at least as great as general regional
and state variations in influencing the individual personality.
In recognition of this, Table II was made, in which the places
of residence before retirement, of the 131 persons living outside of
West Palm Beach at that time, are tabulated according to their popu
lation size in 1940. A notable point, immediately evident from the
table, is that almost all of the sample evidently spent their working
lives in urban areas, that is, incorporated places of more than 2,500
persons. Only seven of the 131 persons reported having lived in
smaller villages or in the open country. Of the urban residents, it
is seen that most lived in the great metropolitan centers of our nation.
2
A map delineating these regions will be found in the appendix.
Taken from Howard W. Odum, Southern Regions of the United States.
Chapel Hill: Tfr University of North Carolina Press, 1936, p. 246.


68
TABLE I I
SIZE OF COMMUNITY OF PREVIOUS RESIDENCE, FOR THOSE IN THE TOTAL SAMPLE
WHO MOVED TO WEST PALM BEACH AFTER RETIREMENT,
WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Size of Community
(Number of Inhabitants, 1940)
Frequency
Percentage
Rural Areas
(Open country and villages with
less than 2,500 inhabitants)
7
5.3
2,500 to 5,000
8
6.1
5,000 to 10,000
1 1
8.4
10,000 to 25,000
14
10.7
25,000 to 50,000
6
4.6
50,000 to 100,000
10
7.6
100,000 to 250,000
8
6.1
250,000 to 500,000
5
3.3
500,000 to 1,000,000
9
6.9
1,000,000 to 4,000,000
20
15.2
New York City and Environs
27
20.6
Not Ascertained
6
4.6
TOTAL
131
100.0


69
Thus the largest single group of all, 27 persons, comprising,
incidentally, all of the persons who gave New York as their state of
previous residence, lived in or around New York City* This is 20 per
cent of the post-retirement segment, while another 15 per cent reported
having lived in other cities with greater than 1,000,000 population,
including Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia. Taken together, about
60 per cent of the segment resided in urban centers larger than West
Palm Beach before they retired.
Presumably, economic opportunity would be one of the main
factors attracting persons to West Palm Beach before their retirement.
The reasons, however, compelling persons of later years to make such
a change, often involving a move of hundreds of miles, adjusting to a
new environment, and developing a complete new set of social relation
ships, demands close examination.
Superficially it might appear that climate and recreational
opportunities would be primary reasons. Yet, many cities in Florida
offer these. One of the purposes of this survey was to try to get at
the reasons for coming to West Palm Beach, as given by the retired
people themselves. To accomplish this several "open" questions were
asked, and an effort made to record the exact answers of the respondents.
The results were not entirely satisfactory, as it was difficult to get
many persons to express themselves adequately, and there was no
assurance that everyone correctly stated the reasons for his move. Then
too, many persons no doubt made the change for a number of reasons which
would be difficult if not impossible for them to evaluate on short


70
notice. The answers which were given, however, do tell a great deal.
One of the most surprising things to come out of the survey
was that for fully one-third of the post-retirement migrants, the attrac
tion of Florida's climate and fame as a resort had little effect on their
move. These persons stated that they left their previous home after
retirement in order to be near or live with children or relatives al
ready living in West Palm Beach. Thus the reason for the movement of
this group to Florida and to West Palm Beach was the same. It should
be brought to mind, however, that the relatives of these persons may
themselves have been attracted to the state by its mild weather and
related advantages.
Climate appeared to be pre-eminent reason for the migration to
Florida of the other two-thirds of the segment coming to West Palm
Beach after retirement. For fifteen persons in this group, the health
value of a moderate climate motivated the move.
A number of factors appeared to encourage the settlement in
West Palm Beach, rather than any other Florida city, of those migrants
not coming to be with relatives. About one in three of these 88 per
sons stated that he had been to West Palm Beach as a winter visitor
before raking up permanent residence there. A few persons, before
settling after retirement, traveled over Florida and found West Palm
Beach to be more to their liking than any other place. Four persons
were attracted to the city by friends already living there. Most of
the others in the group were unable to give a specific reason for mov
ing to the city under examination. This in itself may be significant


71
in indicating that chance factors prevailed in some cases*
The city of West Palm Beach evidently is doing very little to
try to attract retired persons. Several undertakings of the Chamber
of Commerce, however, may be having at least an indirect effect on the
rate of migration of this group. Thus, to help encourage tourists,
this organization places advertisements in many leading magazines and
northern newspapers* These probably attract the attention of retired
people in other areas, as well as potential tourists, some of whom,
the survey has shown, would eventually retire to the city*
Another activity of the Chamber of Commerce, which may encour
age the movement of retired persons into the city is that of answering
their written inquiries* Ten such letters, for instance, were re
ceived and answered between June I and July 15, 1951* Parts of some
of these are reproduced in the chapter on the housing situation, for,
without exception, they were requests for information on housing in the
city* It would appear significant that prospective migrants would not
be interested in getting information from the Chamber of Commerce on
such things as cultural advantages, recreational facilities, etc.,
offered by the city. This seems to indicate that for many migrants,
climate is the main factor motivating them to come to Florida, while
the selection of a specific city depends more on economic and housing
considerations than upon activities or other advantages offered there*


72
Several facts have been brought out in this study of migration.
The information obtained strongly indicates that West Palm Beach
functions less as a retirement center than do many Florida cities*
Nevertheless, at least 65 per cent of the retired group in this
community migrated to the city after their retirement. Sample data,
backed by census analyses for the state as a whole, seem to show that
aged and retired persons are moving to the city at an increasing
rate. Most of the migrants now in the city, moreover, came within the
last five years, and largely from urban areas in the northeastern part
of the United States. Fully 60 per cent of the post-retirement mi
grants in the sample group came from cities which were larger than
West Palm Beach in 1940.
Approximately one-third of the persons who migrated to West
Palm Beach since their retirement did so to live with or to be near
relatives. Climate is the main factor which motivated the most of
others to Florida, while the choice of a specific city depended for
them upon a number of things. About one-third of this segment chose
West Palm Beach on the basis of their experiences as winter visitors,
while several traveled over Florida before deciding to settle in this
community. Economic and housing considerations probably were important
also for many of these persons in the selection of a new city in which
to live*


PART THREE
HOUSING, ECONOMIC AND HEALTH STATUS


CHAPTER V11
THE HOUSING SITUATION
The housing situation of persons who are retired would be
expected to have a great effect on the well-being of these individuals,
while at the same time reflecting their general economic and social
situation.
The first section of these chapter considers the retired people
of the sample as a group; concentrating on their living arrangement
and their attitudes pertaining to some aspects of housing. The next
part focuses upon the dwelling units of the sample, covering a distri
bution of the kind of units included, the number of persons in each,
and the tenure and approximate value of those headed by retired persons.
In the last section the wants and needs of prospective home
owners, who are retired and plan to settle in West Palm Beach, are
discussed.
In the retirement years, many persons are forced to change their
living arrangements. With advancing age, more and more married couples
are separated by death, and the surviving spouse is most often faced
with either living alone or moving into the home of one of the
children. Often too, infirmities connected with aging demand that a
retired person should seek to obtain special care in an institution
or in the home of a relative. These changes are usually disruptive to
say the least, and many times are the center of serious adjustment
problems.
73


74
The living arrangements for all the persons in the West Palm
Beach sample are tabulated in Table 12* Apparently almost one-half of
this group has had to make some change in this aspect of their lives.
The marital status classification given in Chapter III indicates that
96 per cent of the sample were married at one time* Yet, when the
survey was taken, only 58 per cent, or 117, of the persons in the total
group were still living with a spouse.
Of these 117 individuals, 107 were people living with the
spouse only* The other ten were five married couples, who lived with
their children. Of the latter group, three couples had actually
changed their living arrangement, as they were living in homes headed
by a son or a son-in-law. Another 28 persons according to the Table,
who constituted 13.8 per cent of the total, were widows or widowers
also living in the homes of their children. Thirty-one persons or
about 15 per cent of the total sample lived alone when the survey was
taken, while eight lived with one other retired person.
Eighteen members of the sample were found to be living under
various other living arrangements. These included a married couple
and a retired boarder in the same dwelling unit, and retired persons
living with their nieces, nephews, or other persons still actively
working.
Differences by sex in living arrangement were caused mainly
by the higher proportion of marri ed men than women in the sample. Thus
a larger percentage of women than men live alone, or with their children,
and a smaller percentage of this sex live with a spouse.


75
TABLE 12
LIVING ARRANGEMENT OF MEMBERS OF THE TOTAL SAMPLE, BY SEX
WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Tota 1
Ma 1 e
Female
Living Arrangements
Number
Per
centage
Number
Per
centage
Number
Per
centage
Lives Alone
31
15.3
8
9.5
23
19.5
Lives with ChiIdren
28
13.8
7
8.3
21
17.7
Lives only with Spouse
107
53.0
55
65.5
52
44.2
Lives with Spouse and
ChiIdren
10
5.0
5
5.9
5
4.2
Lives with other Retired
Persons
8
4.0
3
3.6
5
4.2
Other Living Arrangement
18
8.9
6
7.2
12
10.2
TOTAL
202
100.0
84
100.0
118
100.0


76
An attempt was made to find out how the members of the sample
felt about their housing conditions* All respondents, that is members
of the short sample, were asked whether or not they considered their
present living quarters to be satisfactory for their needs. The re
sults, tabulated in Table 13, seem to show that most of this group
answered the question in the affirmative, while 13.5 per cent replied
they were not satisfied, and four persons, or 2.9 per cent did not
know. This question was not answered by four others* Differences
by sex, as shown in the table, indicate that a larger proportion of the
females queried are dissatisfied as compared to the males. This varia
tion, however, does not appear to be significant.
It was impossible to know whether or not the respondents
answered this question truthfully. In the course of making most of
the interviews, however, the writer got the feeling that "resigned to"
rather than truly "satisfied with" would more adequately describe the
feelings of a number of the respondents with regard to their living
quarters.
A question which has caused some speculation is whether or not
retired persons prefer to live near individuals their own age. In try
ing to get some objective information on this matter, members of the
short sample were asked whether or not they thought retired people were
happier living in a neighborhood made up mostly of middle aged and older
people. The replies which they gave are presented in Table 14. They
are rather inconclusive, due to the large "don't know" category. Thus,
for the total group, while almost twice as many persons said yes as no,


77
TABLE 13
ATTITUDES OF PERSONS IN THE SHORT SAMPLE TOWARDS LIVING QUARTERS,
BY SEX, WEST PAL/A BEACH, 1951
Attitudes
Total
Male
Fema1e
Number
Per
centage
Number
Per
centage
Number
Per
centage
Satisfied
113
80.7
57
83.8
56
77.8
Not Satisfied
19
13.5
6
8.8
13
18.1
Don't Know
4
2.9
2
2.9
2
2.8
Not Ascertained
4
2.9
3
4.5
1
1.3
TOTAL
140
100.0
68
100.0
72
100.0


78
TABLE 14
ATTITUDES OF PERSONS IN THE SHORT SAMPLE TOWARDS LIVING IN A NEIGHBORHOOD
OF OLDER PEOPLE, BY SEX, WEST PALM BEACH, 1952
Attitudes
Tota 1
Male
Fema1e
Number
Per
centage
Number
Per
centage
Number
Per
centage
Yes
55
39.2
32
47.1
23
31.9
No
32
22.9
15
22.1
17
23.7
Don't Know
46
32.9
19
27.9
27
37.4
Not Ascertained
7
5.0
2
2.9
5
7.0
TOTAL
140
100.0
68
100.0
72
100.0


79
one person in three said that he did not know* There is considerable
difference by sex in the "yes" and'dont know" categories, with fewer
women saying yes and more answering that they did not know than was
true for the men.
One reason for the high occurance of "dont know" answers to
this question is that many of the respondents, particularly in the
older age groups, had difficulty in understanding the query because it
was somewhat hypothetical* Another possible reason could stem from
the urban background of many members of this group. A number of the
persons in the sample, as was demonstrated in the chapter on migration,
spent their working years in large cities, where neighboring is usually
at a minimum. Some of these people might have felt that it made little
difference who one's neighbors were, so long as they were unobtrusive.
Thus they probably would have had no opinion on the question. A real
estate salesman, interviewed to get background material on housing,
stated that he had never had a retired client include, in his specifi
cations for a future home, that it should be in a neighborhood already
containing people of advanced ages*
It appears, then, that at least half of the members of the
short sample group do not necessarily feel that it is desirable for
retired persons to live in neighborhoods made up mostly of people who
are close to their own age*
The health and welfare of a group of people is directly depend
ent upon adequate housing facilities. Information on the quality of
their dwelling units is, in addition, a fair index of economic status*


80
For the 202 retired persons about which information was ob
tained in the West Palm Beach survey, there were lo4 separate house
holds, or dwelling units. Almost all of these, 116, were indiviaual
houses* Eight of the remainder were single or duplex apartments, six
were housed in multiple apartment houses, three were in trailers, and
one was in a rooming house*
While no objective observations were made, the impression of
the writer during the course of the interviewing was that the housing
for the West Palm Beach sample was, on the whole, adequate. Only a
few of the dwelling units appeared to be delapidated, and not many of
them were observed to be noticeably in need of repair. On the other
hand, there were few houses in the luxury class, and almost all of them
must have been at least 10 years old*
Taken as a group, these units did not appear to be overcrowded.
At any rate the average number of persons reported, 2.3 per unit, is
low. Table 15 gives a distribution of the 134 households in the sample
by the number of persons living in each. This tabulation shows that
exactly one-half of the units housed two persons. The next largest
number, 23 per cent of the total, were units in which only one person
lived* The other quarter of the dwelling places, each of which housed
more than two persons, were mostly those in which members of the sample
lived with the families of younger relatives.
The legal rights which people have to their dwellings is basic
to any consideration of housing. A grouping of the sample dwellings
by tenure shows that 36, or more than one in four of them, are owned or


81
TABLE 15
SIZES OF FAMILIES IN SAMPLE HOUSEHOLDS, WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Number of Persons
Frequency
Percentage
1
31
23.1
2
67
50.0
3
15
11.2
4
1 1
8.2
5
6
4.5
6 or more
4
3.0
TOTAL HOUSEHOLDS
134
100.0


82
rented by someone who is not retired. It will be remembered that about
20 per cent of the sample were found to be living with their children.
Most of these homes were under the jurisdiction of the offspring
rather than the retired person.
By far the majority of the 98 retired persons who were heads
of households owned their homes. Eighty-six persons, making up 88
per cent of this segment said that they were home owners, with the
other twelve heads reported as renters.
The dwelling units referred to by these 98 persons, on an
average, were rather modest. Home owners in the group were asked to
give the approximate value of their dwellings, and the median value of
these reports was $10,000. A distribution of the values of homes
owned by retired persons is given in Table 16. It is seen that more
dwellings were reported in the $I0,000-$I4,000 range than in any other
group interval. Seven of the 86 houses were valued by their owners
at less than $5,000, while the most expensive dwelling was listed at
$50,000.00
Of the residents for the 12 dwelling units which were rented,
five refused to give the amount of their monthly rental. The seven
reported values were somewhat low, ranging from $12 to $60 per month.
It v/as stated in the chapter on migration that many of the
inquiries which the West Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce received from
retired people interested in moving to the city concern housing. The
ten letters which were received between June I and July 15, 1951, were
made available for this study. An examination of some of these letters


83
TABLE 16
APPROXIMATE VALUES OF HOMES OWNED BY RETIRED PERSONS IN THE TOTAL
SAMPLE, WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Va 1 ue
Frequency
Percentage
Under $5,000
7
8.9
$5,000 to $9,999
23
29.1
$10,000 to $14,999
25
31.6
$15,000 to $19,999
14
17.7
$20,000 and up
10
12.7
TOTAL
79
100.0


84
should give insight into the housing needs of prospective migrants who
are retired*
Most of the persons who wrote in during this time were inter
ested in whether or not a small house would be available within their
means. This was usually one selling for about $10,000 or renting for
about $50 per month. One of the letters in this group was a little
more specific. A part of it is quoted here:
I have in mind a single-story dwelling, consisting of,
say, a large combination living and dining room, one large
bed room, a fairly large kitchen capable of accommodating
modern labor saving devices and utilities, together with
another medium-sized chamber, and, of course, a bath-room.
A double garage would be desirable. The lot need not be
large, say 85 by perhaps 150. A preferred location would
be beyond the city's congestion and yet not so remote as to
make ordinary shopping a hardship. I would like to get all
this for about $10,000. I realize that this is probably
one-half of what I would pay for a similar layout up here,
and, therefore, my request, or hopes, may be utterly un
reasonable. I don't know and that is why I am writing to
you.
It may be that this man's desires concerning house location
are shared by others. In carrying out the survey, it was noted that
the sample blocks with the heaviest concentration of retired persons
were located near suburban shopping centers.
Another letter asked about the possibilities of getting invest
ment property:
I expect to retire in about two or three years, and
my sister and I are considering West Palm Beach. We
expect to visit there in August of this year, with the
prospect of looking around for something to purchase,
which will include living quarters for ourselves, and one
or two small renting units, at a moderate price.
One person probably desired to supplement his income by part-time
farming:


85
I am interested in a place with three to five acres
of within two to five miles of the city limits. .
To obtain more complete information on the housing needs and
wants of retired people who migrate to West Palm Beach, the head of
one of the largest real estate firms In town was interviewed, along
with one of his salesmen.
According to this real estate broker, the number of retired
persons purchasing homes in West Palm Beach has been increasing over
the past few years.
Many of these people do not have anything special in mind
before buying, though most seem to prefer a two bed-room ground-floor
bungalow. He added that every once in a while a retired person will
request a place suitable for some part-time farming.
A few retired persons are interested in buying small businesses
for investment purposes, such as bars, restaurants, and women's apparel
stores, he stated. Those with more money sometimes want to get a
motor court or apartment house. Often the investment property in which
they are interested is on the outskirts, or off the main highways,
where land values are not so high.
The salesman who was interviewed estimated that about 18 per
cent of the residential property which he had sold, during the 12 month
period prior to the survey, was to retired persons. He doubts if this
percentage has changed much over the years. He also noted that close
to five per cent of the investment property which he had sold during
the same period was to retired people wishing to supplement their
incomes


86
He agreed with his employer in saying that members of the
retired group generally prefer two bedroom bungalows of one story.
About 90 per cent of his retired customers buy property valued at
under $10,000. In addition, he has found that most of these people
do not prefer the newer houses, and usually want a place already
furnished, so that they can move in immediately.
The findings of this chapter have shown that the housing situa
tion for the retired people of West Palm Beach is about is satisfactory
as could be expected for a general population group. Approximately
every other one of these retired individuals Is still living with
spouse only, while one in six is living alone and one in five with a
relative. Answers to attitude questions in the survey schedule indi
cated that most of the members of this retired group are not actively
dissatisfied with their housing, and at least one-half of them do not
care whether or not other older people live in their own neighborhood.
The dwellings, on the whole, are not overcrowded. More than
one-fourth of the households in which retired persons live are headed
by individuals who are still working. Almost all of the retired per
sons maintaining their own homes are owners, rather than renters. The
value of these homes are probably rather modest on an average, with the
median value reported for the sample at $10,000.
Retired persons contemplating migration to West Palm Beach
usually desire to buy two bed-room, one-story houses valued at about
$10,000, though some want investment property, or land suitable for
part-time farming.


CHAPTER VIII
ECONOMIC STATUS
Physical needs must be met as long as life continues. Provid
ing economic security, after working years are over, is thus the basic
problem to be faced upon retirement.
Only indirect information was obtained on the economic status
of the West Palm Beach sample group. No question on income was in
cluded, as it was felt that non-response would be high, giving biased
results for the total group. Data on occupation before retirement,
and type of housing, however, which have been discussed in previous
chapters, can give clues to the economic level of the group. This in
formation, it will be remembered, indicated that there were few people
of wealth in the sample. While a number of persons may be found in the
lower levels of income, as inferred from these indices, the majority of
the people appeared to be of moderate means. Thus, skilled labor and
clerical and sales work predominated the occupational classification,
while the median value of the 86 homes owned by retired people in the
sample was $10,000.
One question was included in the schedule, which in some respects
is more valuable than direct information on income. It is well recog
nized that the level of living, or income of a person does not ade
quately reflect his adjustment to economic problems unless it is related
to his standard of living; that is, the quantity and type of goods and
services to which he is accustomed. Thus, two individuals, receiving
87


88
the same income, might have completely opposite views on its adequacy.
In an effort to get at this relationship respondents were asked the
question: "How do you feel about your income as compared to your
needs? Comfortable? Enough to get along?, or, Can't make ends meet?"
Table 17 presents the results of this query. Of the 140 members
of the short sample, 31, or 22 per cent stated that they were comforta
ble, 63 (45 per cent) said that they had enough to get along, while
38 (or 27 per cent) could not make ends meet. An answer to this
question was not obtained from eight members of the group. From this
it is seen that at least one member of one family group out of four in
the total sample felt that he was faced with a serious economic
problem.
To get an idea of the financial burden carried by the retired
heads of households, a question was asked to determine the number of
persons dependent upon this group. This information is given in Table
18* It is immediately seen that 60 per cent of the retired heads had
no one dependent upon them. As would be expected, the difference by
sex here is marked. Thus, only 44 per cent of the males had no
dependents, as compared to 83 per cent of the females
There was a total of 54 persons who were classified as being to
some extent dependent upon the male retired heads. Of these, 44 were
wives of members of this segment.* The other ten for the male heads
along with all twelve persons dependent upon female heads were related
*The other 16 married women in the sample were for various rea
sons not reported as being dependent upon their husbands.


Full Text
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
3 1262 07332 061 5


THE RETIRED PEOPLE OF WEST PALM BEACH
By
GLENN V. FUGUITT
A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
June, 1952

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The writer wishes to express his thanks to the chairman of
his Supervisory Committee, Dr. T. Lynn Smith, for his patient co¬
operation and guidance throughout the preparation of this thesis.
Acknowledgment should also be given to the other members of the
committee, Dr. John M. Maclachlan and Dr. Herbert A. Meyer, both of
whom willingly gave valuable advice and assistance.
Mr. Irving L, Webber, of the Florida State Improvement Com¬
mission was very helpful, particularly in the planning and field
work stages of this project. Professor W. F. Callender, Interim
Director of the University of Florida Bureau of Statistics, suggested
the sample design which was used in the survey.
The writer also wishes to express his appreciation to his wife,
whose enoouragement and cooperation was so instrumental in bringing
this thesis to a completion
ü

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
LIST OF TABLES iv
LIST OF FIGURES vü
Part One - Introduction
CHAPTER I - INTRODUCTION I
CHAPTER II - SURVEY OF THE LITERATURE 12
CHAPTER III - THE COMMUNITY BACKGROUND 24
Part Two - The Retired Population
CHAPTER IV - COMPOS ITI ON 38
CHAPTER V - THE RETIREMENT PROCESS 49
CHAPTER VI - MIGRATION 62
Part Three - Housing, Economic and
Health Status
CHAPTER VI I - THE HOUSING SITUATION 73
CHAPTER VIII - ECONOMIC STATUS 87
CHAPTER IX - HEALTH STATUS 103
Part Four - Activities
CHAPTER X - RECREATIONAL AND EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES .... 114
CHAPTER XI - PARTICIPATION IN ORGANIZATIONS 131
CHAPTER XI I - RELIGIOUS ACTIVITIES 137
Part Five - Summary and Conclusion
CHAPTER XIII - SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION 146
BIBLIOGRAPHY 154
APPENDIX
156

LIST OF TABLES
Table Page
1 Population of West Palm Beach, for Census Years
from 1900 to 1950 ........ 26
2 Percentage Distribution of Persons in the Labor
Force, by Industry Groups, West Palm Beach and
United States Urban Populations, 1940. • ••••• 33
3 Age Distribution of the Total Sample, by Sex,
West Palm Beach, 1951. 39
4 Marital Status of the Total Sample, by Sex,
West Palm Beach, 1951*. • 41
5 Religious Preference of the Total Sample, by
Sex, West Palm Beach, 1951 45
6 Educational Status of Persons in the Total
Sample, by Sex, West Palm Beach, 1951. •••••• 47
7 Former Occupations of Principal Wage Earners,
West Palm Beach, 1951. 51
8 Industry Group Distribution of Occupations of
Principal Wage Earners, West Palm Beach, 1951. . . 56
9 Reasons for the Retirement of Principal Wage
Earners, West Palm Beach, 1951 58
10 Number of Years Which Members of the Total
Sample Lived in West Palm Beach, by Residence
Before Retirement, West Palm Beach, 1951 ..... 64
11 Size of Community of Previous Residence, for
Those in the Total Sample Who Moved to West
Palm Beach After Retirement, West Palm Beach
1951 68
12 Living Arrangement of Members of the Total
Sample, by Sex, West Palm Beach, I95I....... 75
13 Attitudes of Persons in the Short Sample Toward
Living Quarters, by Sex, West Palm Beach, 1951 • • 77
14Attitudes of Persons in the Short Sample Toward
Living in a Neighborhood of Older People, by Sex,
West Palm Beach, 1951 78
iv

15
Sizes of Families in Sample Households, West
Palm Beach, 1951* • 81
16Approximate Values of Homes Owned by Retired
Persons in the Total Sample, West Palm Beach,
1951 83
17 Attitudes of Persons in the Short Sample Toward
Present Incomes, West Palm Beach, 1951* .... • 89
18 Number of Persons Dependent Upon Retired House¬
hold Heads, West Palm Beach, 1951 ...••••• 90
19 Sources of Inooraes Reported by Retired House¬
hold Heads, West Palm Beach, 1951 • . 92
20 Number of Means of Support Reported by Retired
Household Heads, West PI am Beach, 1951. • • . . • 94
21 Desire to Work, Retired Household Heads, by
Sex, West Palm Beach, 1951. ........... 99
22 Attitudes of Persons in the Short Sample Toward
Their Health, by Sex, West Palm Beach, 1951 ... 105
23 Types of Physical Ailments Reported by Persons in
the Short Sample, by Sex, West Palm Beach, 1951 • 106
24 Number of Physical Ailments Reported by Persons
in the Short Sample, by Sex, West Palm Beach,
1951 108
25 The Three /tost Important Activities of Persons
in the Short Sample, by Sex, West Palm Beach,
1951 116
26 Hobbies Reported by Members of the Total Sample,
by Sex, West Palm Beach, 1951 120
27 Newspaper Reading Practices, Sample Households,
West Palm Beach, 1951 122
28 Time Spent Reading, by Persons in the Short
Sample, by Sex, West Palm Beach, 1951 ..... • 123
29 Number of Organizational Memberships for Persons
in the Total Sample, by Sex, West Palm Beach,
1951 132
v

30 Attendance of Persons in the Total Sample at
Religious Services, by Sex, West Palm Beach,
1951 140
31 Church Membership of Persons in the Total Sample,
by Sex, West Palm Beach, 1951 142
vi

LIST OF FIGURES
Fiqure Paoe
1 Age-Sex Pyramid for fhe White Population of
West Palm Beach, 1940 28
2 Age-Sex Pyramid for the Non-White Population
of West Palm Beach, 1940. ............ 29
3 Index Numbers of Ages, for Selected White Urban
Population, 1940. 35
4 State of Birth of Members of fhe Total Sample,
West Palm Beach, 1931 ••••»•• 43
5 State of Previous Residence of Those in the Total
Sample Who Moved to the City After Retirement,
West Palm Beach, 1951 66
6 Odum's Regions of the United States ••...•• 165
vii

PART ONE
INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION
This is a sociological study of the retired people who are
living in West Palm Beach, Florida. The objectives of the project
are to obtain factual information on the population characteristics,
housing, economic and health status, and activities of the retired
group, as well as to survey some of the programs and facilities pro¬
vided for them in the city.
The analysis of the material is descriptive in scope, with no
attempt made to prove or disprove specific hypotheses. Using the
sociological point of view, emphasis is on stating the facts, rather
than on emphasizing particular problems or advocating specific pro¬
grams of action.
The subjects under examination are the white retired persons
living in the specific area bounded by the city limits of West Palm
Beach, Florida, and certain local community institutions and organi¬
zations serving these people. While the field work took place during
the summer of 1951, it is the writer's opinion that the generalizations
obtained from the investigation hold true for this city over a somewhat
longer period of time.
Three methods were used to obtain the data analyzed in this re¬
port. The most important was an interview survey of retired people liv¬
ing in West Palm Beach. The second method was to interview selected
leaders of the community from whom related information was obtained. In
I

2
addition, certain secondary sources, such as census reports and histori¬
cal works yielded background material. The first one of these means of
obtaining data deserves a more complete explanation.
It was, of course, impossible to talk to all of the retired
people of the city. Therefore, an effort was made to select those inter¬
viewed so that they would represent a cross-section of the total group.
To attempt seriously to do so requires a somewhat elaborate procedure,
as wi11 be shown.
At the suggestion of Professor W. F. Callender, Interim Director
of the Bureau of Statistics at the University of Florida, city blocks
were made the basic units of the sample. Thus, certain blocks were
selected throughout West Palm Beach. An occupant of every dwelling
unit within these blocks was then interviewed in order to obtain certain
information from or about all the retired persons living within the
specified areas.
The next problem was to decide on the number of blocks desired
in the sample. This number was limited by the amount of time availa¬
ble for interviewing. It was felt before beginning that only 100 to
120 interviews could be obtained during the period of field work.
At this point a preliminary survey was made in West Palm Beach,
to determine roughly the average number of dwelling units housing re¬
tired persons on each block. In the sample of 20 blocks, selected in
a method yet to be described, ¿7 houses in which retired persons lived
were reported. This indicated that in the city there was per block an
average of about 1.3 dwelling units which housed persons falling under

3
our definition of retired. According to this estimate, about 107 inter¬
views could be obtained in a sample of 82 blocks. This number of blocks,
then, was selected for the final sample.
As it turned out, the estimate of the preliminary survey was
somewhat low, so that 140 interviews were actually obtained in the 82
blocks. For this reason, another interviewer had to be obtained for a
two-week period.
In order to take a sample that is representative of a total
group, each member of the group must have an equal chance of being
selected. One way of approximating this would have been to pick the 82
sample blocks completely at random. With this method, however, there
would have been a possibility that chance selections would concentrate
in certain areas of the city, leaving others completely without sample
blocks. It was thus felt that a randomly determined, systematic selec¬
tion of blocks might give a smaller sampling error. For determining
this sample an enlarged city map was obtained. After marking off the
Negro section which was not included in the study, all the blocks were
numbered in a serpentine manner, starting at the north end and working
south. The last block, on the southeast corner of the city was number
909. By a systematic selection, every "iwth numbered block on the map
was selected for the sample, insuring a more or less uniform geographi¬
cal distribution throughout the city. The interval between the block
numbers selected, or "i" is the quotient of the total number of blocks
in the city divided by the number of blocks desired in the sample.
The "I" for this sample, then, is equivalent to the total number of

4
blocks delineated on the map of West Palm Beach, or 909, divided by the
number of blocks desired in the sample, 82, which is equal to approxi¬
mately II. Thus, numbered blocks on the map would be taken at intervals
of II, in order to get 82 blocks for the sample. The actual blocks
taken in the sample were determined by choosing the first block at
random from those numbered one to eleven. Block number nine was the
random selection and became the first block in the final sample. Suc¬
ceeding block numbers were obtained by adding eleven each time.
The final sample included nine per cent of all the blocks in
the city. It could then be expected that they would contain approxi¬
mately nine per cent of the retired people of the city. A sample of
this size should be fairly representative of the total group for most
purposes.
Unfortunately, the final sample of retired persons interviewed
was biased in several ways. Every effort was made to contact members
of each family in the sample blocks. The purposes of the survey were
carefully explained and retired persons thus found were interviewed
where possible. Some persons, however, remained unconvinced of the
value of such a project. Fourteen retired persons refused to be inter¬
viewed, while it is possible that others were omitted merely because
they denied that they were retired.
After three "callbacks" no one was found at home in a number
of dwelling units throughout the sample blocks. Some of these may
have been homes of retired persons, although the majority no doubt
housed families in which all members were employed, and therefore away

5
during the day.
A larger number of houses in the sample blocks were obviously
closed for extended periods. The survey was made during the hot summer
months when many persons take their vacations. No doubt a number of
these houses belonged to persons who were no longer working. This
probably represents the biggest source of bias in the sample, and indi¬
cates that persons of modest means, who could not afford to travel were
likely to have been ovei—represented.
It is seen that the sample survey which was taken, despite all
precautions possible under the circumstances, was nevertheless not per¬
fectly representative of all the retired persons who called West Palm
Beach their home during the summer of IS5I. The results of the survey,
however, do make the best picture available for this group, and in the
opinion of the writer are not greatly distorted. The chief danger
should lie in over-analyzing the material and trying to draw conclusions
that are too precise. Thus, although most of the present findings are
presented in terms of the sample, it is believed that in the main, they
are equally true of the entire retired group.
The actual interviewing was carried on with the aid of a printed
schedule, one of which was filled out for each respondent by the inter¬
viewers. On it each question was completely written out, to make sure
that every person would be asked the same question in exactly the same
way. A copy of this research aid will be found in the Appendix*
The writer did about two-thirds of the interviewing for the
survey. In order to complete work within the time limit, Mrs. Esther

6
C. Holt, a sociology teacher at the West Palm Beach Junior College, was
employed for two weeks and she took the remaining one-third of the
schedules.
To save time, only one schedule was filled out for each married
couple. The partner contacted was asked a number of questions for his
spouse. In addition, several questions were included which could only
be answered by the person interviewed, along with some concerning the
heads of households, and the total household group.
This method of collecting material and comprehensive coverage
of subject matter in the schedule meant that with one sample, informa¬
tion about five different groups of people was obtained.
The first is made up of persons for whom a completed schedule
was filled out. This group of 140 persons (68 men and 72 women) repre¬
sents a somewhat biased sample, as it includes only one person from
each of the retired couples contacted in the survey. Throughout the
report this group is referred to as the short sample.
Next is the total sample group, composed of all the retired
persons about whom information was obtained. This is the short sample
plus the spouses not personally interviewed, totaling 202 persons, 84
of whom are men and 118 are women.
For questions concerning such things as employment since re¬
tirement, information was obtained about all retired persons not pre¬
sently married and all males who were married, whether or not they were
directly interviewed. Though the term is not strictly accurate, this
group is considered to be the retired heads of households included in

6
the sample. It consists of 84 men and 56 women, or a total of 140
persons*
Certain questions, such as the one on reasons for retirement,
actually concern the principal wage earners of the family groups at the
time of retirement, whether or not they are alive, or presently living
in West Palm Beach. This group, referred to as the principal wage earn¬
ers, includes 140 persons, or 122 men and 18 women*
Some information, in addition, was obtained on the 134 house¬
holds in which the members of the total sample lived*
For the purposes of this study, the following definition of
"retired persons" has been followed*
1. Persons who have left their regular lifetime
occupation. This would include older persons
working irregularly or part-time.
2. Persons who have never worked, or v/ho are liv¬
ing on inherited or earned wealth.
3* Wives of the above persons unless they are work¬
ing ful I-time.
4. Widows of retired men.
5. Other widows, 55 years old or over who do not
work or who work part-time.
The median has been used in several parts of this report. This
is a descriptive, statistical measure of central tendency which means
"middle item." If a series of observations are ranked according to their
magnitude, the magnitude at the point equally dividing the observations
is the median. Thus, in Chapter IV, it was stated that the median years
of school completed by the sample group was 9.9. This means that one-
half of the members of the sample attended school for a longer period,

7
and one-half for a shorter period than 9.9 years*
It is generally recognized that the United States has for
more than a century, been going through a period of rapid social
change* Several of the effects of this change have combined to make
desirable the study of people in the older and retired groups.
Probably the most important of these effects is the changing
age profile of the population, making a dramatic increase in the pro¬
portion and absolute number of those of advanced years. This fact is
easily observable with modern census methods. A student of population,
for instance, demonstrated that for the 30 states of the United States
which could be compared, the weighted average of the percentage of those
over 65 in 1830 was 8*31, while the same value for 1930 was 17*85.*
This proportional change, along with the great population growth which
has characterized this nation, means that the absolute number of those
in the older age groups is also increasing*
This increase, however, would not alone justify extensive study
of aged or retired people as a group. Other changes upon our social
scene appear to have made this segment of life an increasingly diffi¬
cult period through which to pass. In other words, while people in
most societies probably have to face some form of adjustment to old age,
this adjustment is becoming harder to make in our society, while at
the same time the number and proportion of those forced to make it is
increasing.
^Raymond Pearl, "The Ageing of Populations,” The American Statis¬
tical Association Journal . 35 (1940), 277 - 297.

8
In a predominantly rural culture, such as existed in the United
States about a century ago, the coming of old age for most people pre¬
sented few problems, except those related to increasing physical infirmi¬
ties. At that time the family was more important as a social group than
is true today. Older persons could usually expect to receive physical
and economic assistance from their children or other members of the
family group upon retirement.
Most of the workers then were farmers and small business men,
while wage earners on a whole enjoyed more personal relationships with
their employers than is true today. Thus retirement for most people
could be a gradual rather than an abrupt process. A man could relin¬
quish his responsibilities one by one, often turning them over to his
chi I dren.
It is v/ell known that this condition no longer exists for a
sizeable part of the population. With the industrial revolution has
come urbanization largely through great internal migrations, with a
resulting decrease in the importance of the family as a group, and
general increase of impersonal relationships. The older person often
can no longer look to his children for shelter, or even financial
assistance. Compact, urban housing does not encourage the addition of
older persons to the family group, while in many cases mobility makes
strangers of family segments which are a generation apart.
With industries growth and concentration, the proportion of
wage-earners has increased. Among the requirements for many industrial
jobs are high-speed performance and great strength, which tend to

9
exclude those of advanced years. Personal employer-employee relation¬
ships have largely become a thing of the past, and perhaps because of
this, along with reasons of economic expediency, the practice of gradual
retirement has all but died out.
Thus, the machine age worker often finds himself abruptly chang¬
ing from a life of strenuous and constant activity to one of apparent
emptiness, many times unable to turn to relatives or friends for finan¬
cial assistance, physical care, or psychic support.
Related to these conditions and adding to the frustration of
most persons entering retirement status is the fact that the new emphasis ,
on science and progress has taken away much of the traditional respect
for the wisdom and importance of older people, especially those no longer
working. Most often these individuals are considered "old fashioned"
or "out of step" by the younger members of our society.
The recognition that this increasing number of older and retired
persons are today facing special problems, has led many individuals and
groups, in line with the ameliorative values of our society, to want
to "do something about it." But intelligent action requires knowledge.
One valuable function of social research, then, is to furnish factual,
objective knowledge about these people. How many persons are in this
group? Where are they? With whom do they live? How well do they solve
their economic problems? What is their overall health status? How do
they use their free time? These and many other questions require an¬
swers before the wise planning of any program concerning older and re¬
tired people may be undertaken, either on community or higher levels,

10
by governmental or institutional groups.
The need to learn more about the older and retired citizens
of peninsular Florida is particularly acute. It has been recognized
that the changing structure of society is concentrating elderly per¬
sons in certain sections of the United States, Information is pre¬
sented in Chapter II which shows conclusively that older people are
becoming more migratory, and that Florida is receiving increasingly
significant numbers of them.
The value of the present project should now be obvious. It
could provide useful information for community leaders in cities
throughout Florida, as well as state planning agencies. This informa¬
tion could be used not only as a factual base for public or institu¬
tional programs aimed at assisting these people in their adjustment to
old age and retirement, but also as an aid in making any decision which
would directly or indirectly affect them. In addition, the findings
of the project should represent a worth-while addition to the fund of
knowledge on this important subject which is being built up by social
scientists throughout the country.
Part One of this report contains introductory material, and
includes this chapter and the two following which are, respectively, a
survey of the literature which has appeared on the subject of old age
and retirement, and a discussion of background information on the city
of West Palm Beach. Part Two is concerned with the retired population.
Chapter IV, the first in this part, includes information on the com¬
position of the retired population, while certain facts pertaining to

the process of retirement are taken up in Chapter V. Chapter VI con¬
tains a discussion of migration, with special emphasis on those per¬
sons coming to the city after their retirement* In Part Three, the
housing situation, economic status and health status are each con¬
sidered in a chapter. The activities of the retired group constitute
the general subject of Part Four with chapters devoted to recreational
and educational activities, participation in organizations and partici¬
pation in religious activities. Part Five, composed of only one
chapter, summarizes and concludes this project.

CHAPTER I I
SURVEY OF THE LITERATURE
Writers since antiquity have considered certain aspects of
old age» For example, in The Republ ic of Plato, Socrates asks an old
companion, Cephalus, whether or not it is harder living near the end
of life» Cephalus answers:
. • • Men's regrets, and all their protest about oold
hearted relations and so on, come not from their years but
from their makeup; for anyone who is naturally well bal¬
anced, years are no weight. But to men of the opposite
sort, being young or old are equally causes of trouble»*
This point of view is remarkably similar to that held by many students
of the problems of elderly people today. Most discussions of aging be¬
fore the current century, however, concerned themselves little with
personal adjustment» Interest usually centered about describing ster¬
eotyped personality characteristics of older people, or the medical
aspects of aging, with special emphasis on the possibilities of length¬
ening the span of life.
Aristotle, in one of his works, gave a dark picture of the
characteristics of elderly men.2 The philosopher stated that they are
sure of nothing and under-do everything. Moreover, they are cynical,
distrustful, small-minded, penurious, querulous, and cowardly. Finally,
^I• A. Richards, The Republic of Plato. New York: W. W. Norton
Company, 1942, p. 18.
2
W. D. Ross, Aristotle: Selections. New York: Charles Scrib¬
ners Sons, 1927, pp. 323 - 327.
12

13
they love life, but live by memory rather than hope.
Francis Bacon, (1561-1626), discussed longevity at length in
an article called "The History of Life and Death."3 Based on histori¬
cal and other sources, he made a number of generalizations on the con¬
ditions conducive to a long life. Among these were the statements that
men lived longer in a cold climate than in one which was warm, that
islanders had a greater life-span than did persons living on continents,
and that men living in high altitudes usually lived to an older age than
did those in low altitudes. Equality and purity of air he believed to
be important for a long life, and he thought that a well-regulated diet
was the most important factor of all. This interesting treatise also
included the prescription for a medicine which was said to be an aid in
the prolongation of life.
An examination of the historical section of Shock's A Class? fied
Biblioqraphy of Gerontology and Geriatrics indicated that most of the
work done in the past century was on the medical aspects of aging, while
the social conditions characteristic of that period of life were almost
completely ignored.4 This situation evidently continued to exist
through at least the first three decades of the present century. Otto
Poliak, writing in 1948, stated:
^Francis Bacon, "The History of Life and Death," in The Works of
Francis Bacon, edited by James Spedding, et al., Boston: Houghton Mifflin
Company, No date given, X, pp. 7 - 284.
4Nathan W. Shock, A Classified Biblioqraphy of Gerontology and
Geriatrics. Stanford: The Stanford University Press, 1951.

14
Except for statistical analyses of older population
groups by demographers and special research by economists
on problems of social security, the exploration and analysis
of the social aspects of aging have been largely neglected
until recently*^
Several reasons may be cited for this neglect* Obviously old
age, or any other segment of life, could not represent a problem for
study until progress and amelioration, or the ability and right of man
to improve his lot, became values in our civilization* Then too, the
scientific emphasis in our culture has only recently led many persons
to the belief that the proper study of a given social situation may be
made only through an objective examination of the individuals in that
situation.
Yet these conditions did exist for many years before the social
aspect of old age and retirement received much consideration* The imme¬
diate reason for this neglect, then, must have been due largely to the
fact that up to the past two decades it was not generally recognized
that this period of life presented special problems to the individual
in our society, and that the number of persons in the old age and re¬
tired groups were increasing.
By this time work in this area did begin in earnest, the social
sciences had become differentiated into a number of disciplines, while
specialization in specific subjects by those of each field also had be¬
come the rule. Projects, then, concerned with the social conditions of
^Otto Pollak, SociaI Ad iustment in 01d Age. New York: Social
Science Research Council, 1948, p* 6.

15
aging, were almost from the beginning rather highly specialized, being
done by men and women in several disciplines, with many points of view,
and on a variety of subjects»
To attempt to summarize adequately what has been done, both in
research and in applied programs by social scientists and allied work¬
ers, would be beyond the scope of this chapter» Reference, however,
will be made here to some of the more descriptive and comprehensive
accounts in the general areas which were considered by the present
study, along with reports on particularly pertinent research projects»
Social Adjustment in Old Age, by Otto Pol Iak, isa very valuable
volume for anyone contemplating social research in old age or retire¬
ment»^ It is a research planning report, issued by the Social Science
Research Council, which includes a systematic review of needed research
on societal and personal adjustment to old age. A number of areas are
considered, such as family life, making a living, attitudes toward and
adjustments to retirement, as well as the more general fields of demo¬
graphic analysis and psychological analysis of individual adjustment»
There is, in addition, a bibliography in the appendix»
Another important aid to research on old age is Shock's A Classi¬
fied Bib Iiographv of Gerontology and Geriatrics»? This is a thorough
bibliography, which includes publications on the medical and biological,
as well as the social aspects of the field»
In 1932, P. K. Whelpton, a specialist in population studies,
6lbid.
^Shock, o£. cit»

16
was among the first to point out that the number of older persons in
our population was increasing proportionally and absolutely.8 Since
that time a number of individuals have studied this phenomenon* One
of the more recent articles to appear, which covers this subject, along
with other demographic factors related to old age, was written by Henry
Shryock*^
A number of surveys have been concerned with the adjustment of
societal and community organizations and processes to the needs of
elderly persons. Some publications aimed at this objective in the areas
of recreation, religion, housing, and economics are mentioned here.
An excellent source, covering the present programs, problems,
and future needs of recreation for older persons, has been written by
Helen Laue.10 In addition, various issues of Recreation magazine over
the past decade have contained articles describing programs of organized
recreation for this group.
Older People and the Church is a book reporting on the first
comprehensive attempt to study the relationship of the protestant
churches to persons over 60 years of age.II Both pastoral care and
8P. K. Whelpton, "Increase and Distribution of Elders in our
Population." Amer?can Statistical Association JournaI. supplement (1932),
93.
Q
Henry Shryock, "The Changing Age Profile of the Population," in
The Aged and Society, edited by Milton Derber, Champaign, Illinois: The
Industrial Relations Research Association, 1950, pp. 2 - 23.
*^Helen Laue, "Recreation Needs and Problems of Older People," in
Planning the Older Years, edited by Wilma Donahue and Clark Tibbetts,
Ann Arbor: The University of A\ichigan Press, 1950, pp. 97 -118.
*1 Paul Maves and J. L. Cedarleaf, 01der People and the Church.
New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1949.

17
group work are considered, based upon the experience of the authors
and the results of a survey In a protestant church district*
Little has been published on housing for the elderly person*
Many aspects of this problem, however, are considered in an article by
Hertha Kraus.*2 The need for more adequate housing, particularly for
elders not living in institutions is discussed, along with what already
has been done for this problem both here and abroad. Attention in her
paper is given also to financial arrangements for possible housing pro¬
grams, as well as to the desirability of companion group apartments
for those of advanced years*
Part II of the Industrial Relations Research Association publi¬
cation entitled The Aged and Societv contains a number of selections
covering most phases of the present economic situation.13 Included are
discussions of the older person in the labor market, the relations of
industry and unions to the older worker, the question of the desirability
of an arbitrary retirement age, and government and private pension
programs.
The psychological aspects of aging represent another main area
of research. An excellent survey of the accomplishments of workers in
this field was made by Samuel Granick.14 The first of two categories
12
Hertha Kraus, "Housing our Older Citizens," The Annals of the
Academy of Political and SociaI Science. 279 (January 1952) 38 - 126*
* Hilton Derber, editor, The Aged and Society. Champaign, Illi¬
nois: The Industrial Relations Research Association, 1950, pp. 56 - 137.
14
Samuel Granick "Stucfies in the Psychology of Senility—A
Survey," JournaI of Gerontology. 5 (1950), pp. 44 - 58*

18
into which he divides the projects that have been completed is the
intellectual and learning abilities of these people, which includes
studies of intelligence test performance, memory, vocabulary, reasoning
and related factors, and performance and achievement. The second cate¬
gory is concerned with studies of personality functioning and adjust¬
ments, subdivided into personality characteristics and adjustments, and
interests, attitudes, belief, and motivation.
Some research has been done on the broader and generally all-
inclusive subject of personal adjustment to old age; that is, the ad¬
justment of the elderly individual to his society. One of the first
such studies was conducted by Judson T. Landis in 1940.*5 An interview
survey was made of 450 rural persons of advanced ages in Iowa, divided
according to whether or not they were dependent or independent
financial Iy.
A significant and consistent difference was found between
dependents and non-dependents. Among other things, dependents in this
sample had less education, married earlier, left home earlier, moved
more, and had poorer health on an average than did non-dependents.
Group comparisons were also made on the basis of a composite score.
A significantly larger number of the better adjusted persons were found
to have good health, regular work, and hobbies than those in the poorer
adjusted group. Those with the higher adjustment scores, moreover,
15
Judson T. Landis, "Attitudes and Adjustments of Aged Rural
People in Iowa," Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Louisiana State
University, 1940, cited in the Uni versitv Bulletin. Louisiana State
University. 33 N. S. (1941) 27 - 29.

19
usually visited one another, attended church, and made plans for the
future to a greater extent than the others.
A good survey of past and current developments in the area of
adjustment in old age is to be found in The Aged and Society**^
It has been recognized that the changing structure of society,
and specialization on the part of cities, is concentrating elderly per¬
sons in certain sections of the United States. A sizeable proportion
of these people recently have been finding themselves financially
independent, and free from family and other social ties. This along
with the fact that the general population of the country has been
highly mobile in recent years, has helped to encourage a number of old
people to migrate permanently from their former homes. As a result,
some cities and areas are emerging as retirement cities and retirement
areas*
A number of research projects have touched on this phenomenon.
Demographic studies have been made which either directly or indirectly
reveal the importance and direction of the movements of elderly people,
while several community surveys have thrown light upon the social sit¬
uation of those members of the older age group living in selected re¬
tirement centers*
T. Lynn Smith recently made an exploratory study of the migration
^Earnest W. Burgess, "Personal and Social Adjustment in Old Age,"
in The Aged and Society, edited by Milton Derber, Champaign, Illinois:
Industrial Relations Research Association, 1950, pp. 138 - 156.

20
of older people during the decade between 1930 and 1940.^ Using Census
data, he showed that an important movement of elders is taking place to
the west coast and gulf coast of the United States. More specifically,
peninsular Florida, southern California, and eastern Texas gained the
largest number of older people in this decade. With few exceptions, he
found that counties in which large cities were located had a low propor¬
tion of aged migrants from elsewhere. The smaller cities in the south,
however, did appear to attract significant numbers of these people dur¬
ing the decade, while the same was true of many state capitals, espe¬
cially if they were also university towns.
The more recent demographic studies have been made which, along
with other things, furnish scientific information of the redistribution
of elders between 1940 and 1950. Homer L. Hitt, by applying procedures
similar to those employed by T. Lynn Smith, to 1940 along with prelimi¬
nary 1950 census data, gave conclusive evidence that the magnitude of
migration by older people was substantially greater in this period than
it had been during the preceding decade.I 9 By a comparison with Pro¬
fessor Smith's analysis of the earlier period he found, for example,
that California gained 99,000 migrants over 65 between 1940 and 1950»
as compared with 57,000 between 1930 and 1940. The corresponding
*^T. Lynn Smith, "The Migration of the Aged," in ProbIems of
America's Aging Population, edited by T. Lynn Smith, Gainesville* The
University of Florida Press, 1951, pp. 15 - 28.
*®Homer L. Hitt, America's Aged at Midcenturv* Number. Dis¬
tribution. and Pattern of Change. Paper read at the Second Annual
Southern Conference on Gerontology, January 28, 1952.

21
figures for Florida were 65,500 and 33,000. Evidently, the general
areas receiving migrants did not change greatly during the latest dec¬
ade, as Professor Hitt found, in agreement with Professor Smith's ear¬
lier study, that the states on the gulf coast and the west coast of
the United States were outstanding in this respect* This interesting
paper also contained information on the number and distribution and in¬
crease of the population over 65 throughout the United States, utilizing
the latest available census figures*
A report of more localized interest for this thesis is Florida's
01 der Population, written by T. Stanton Dietrich.*9 Using a somewhat
different method from that employed by Professor Hitt, Professor
Dietrich estimated that approximately 96,000 persons migrated into
Florida between 1940 and 1950 who were 65 and over in 1950* He pointed
out that this figure represented 40 per cent of Florida's older popu¬
lation in 1950, and about 16.5 per cent of the estimated 592,000 per¬
sons of all ages who came to Florida from other areas in the recent dec-
ade*20 other sections of this report dea It with the extent of "old age"
in the United States, and the growth, racial composition, and propor¬
tion and number of white persons, in Florida's older population*
Taken together, these three studies show conclusively that older
people are becoming more migratory, and that Florida is receiving in¬
creasingly significant numbers of them*
19
T. Stanton Dietrich, Florida's Older Population. Tallahassees
Florida State Improvement Commission, 1952*
20lbid.. p. 21*

22
One of the first community surveys which has been made of the
aged population in a retirement center was carried out by W. C. McKain
in 1947.21 He chose a California village with a large proportion of
elders who had recently migrated from other states, and concentrated his
attention upon the social participation of these people.
Various means were used to get information, the chief of which
was through personally interviewing a sample of residents over 65.
Along with other findings, this survey showed that older persons in the
village participated less than younger ones in formal and informal ac¬
tivities, and that health, length of residence, occupation, education,
level of living, marital status, living arrangements, place of birth,
and residential history were related to the extent of social participa¬
tion.
Professor McKain, with E. D. Baldwin, recently did a similar
study in a Connecticut retirement town.22 Instead of examining ex¬
haustively one aspect of the social situation of older people, as Pro¬
fessor McKain did in California, this survey was broader and more des¬
criptive in scope. Topics included for investigation were the general
characteristics of the older residents, migration, their economic situa¬
tion, health, agricultural activities, living conditions, family ties,
2*W. C. McKain, "The Social Participation of Old People in a
California Retirement Community," Unpublished doctoral dissertation,
Harvard University, 1947.
22W. C. McKain and Elmer 0. Baldwin, Old Age and Retirement in
Rural Connecticut. J_. East Haddam: A Summer Resort Community. Storrsj
Storrs Agricultural Experiment Station, University of Connecticut,
1951.

23
and leisure-time activities.
During the summer of 1950, Irving L. Webber surveyed the retired
people of the City of St. Petersburg, Florida.23 This work was a unique
contribution in several ways. It was probably the first attempt to
study retired people as a group, rather than Including all those per¬
sons above an arbitrary age. It was also the first objective inquiry on
the aged migrants who have come in such large number to the gulf coast
of the United States. St. Petersburg, renowned as a mecca for members
of this group, was well selected for such a study.
Sources of data included a sample survey of members of the re¬
tired group, along with interviews of selected community leaders. The
information obtained was analyzed descriptively in an effort to learn
more of the general economic and social characteristics of the retired
group in this Florida city. While it is difficult to summarize briefly
the findings of a report with such broad objectives, the principal topics
which were examined included the population characteristics of the re¬
tired group, recreation, organizations, health, housing, economic status,
and their attitudes toward St. Petersburg.
It will be noted that the purposes and scope of the St. Peters¬
burg study and of this thesis are very similar. An attempt then, has
been made in the survey of West Palm Beach to add to existing knowledge
about retired people through an already existing frame of reference.
23
Irving L. Webber, The Ret?red Population of St. Petersburg.
Its Characteristics and Social Situation. Tallahassee: Florida State
Improvement Commission, 1950.

CHAPTER I I I
THE COM/A UN ITY BACKGROUND
The city of West Palm Beach is located on the lower east coast
of Florida, 283 miles south of Jacksonville, and 66 miles north of
Miami, on U. S. Highway number one» The city is long and narrow in
shape, with an area of 15*4 square miles» It is bounded on one side
by a fresh water lake and on the other by Lake Worth, a narrow bay
which separates the island of Palm Beach from the mainland.
The climate of the area is subtropical. According to a re¬
lease from the West Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce, the mean annual
temperature is 78°. The gulf stream is directly offshore along this
part of the coast, and the trade winds create a breeze for the city
during most of the year» In common with almost all coastal areas of
Florida, the topography of the city is low and flat, with an altitude
ranging from sea level to about 18 feet»
South Florida was one of the last sections of the state to be
settled» In 1890 there were only a handful of persons living on Palm
Beach or the area that is now West Palm Beach» Three years later
Henry Flagler, the well-known developer of the Florida east coast, was
attracted to the vicinity. He saw the possibilities of Palm Beach as
an exclusive winter resort, and purchased property on both sides of
Lake Worth» Work was begun immediately on the Royal Poinciana Hotel
on the beach, while his Florida East Coast railroad was being extended
south to the area.
24

25
Flagler intended West Palm Beach to be a railroad station and
service center for the island resort* He laid out a townsite on the
mainland, built roads and other improvements, and instructed his
workers to move there. In 1894, the railroad reached West Palm Beach,
and the community was incorporated during the same year*
Since this time, the city has been characterized by a continu¬
ous and rapid growth. Table I shows the population of West Palm Beach
for each census year since 1900, as well as the absolute and relative
change between censuses. With only 564 persons reported in 1900, the
city has grown to over 43,000 in 1950. The decade with the greatest
percentage growth was 1910-1920, when the number of inhabitants
swelled from 1,743 to 8,659 for a 396 per cent increase* The next
decade, that of the Florida ’’Boom," showed the largest absolute in¬
crease. During the 'thirties, with the depression, the population in¬
crease was both relatively and absolutely smaller than in the period
1920-1930* This was also true of the latest decade, although during
this period slightly more growth was shown than in the inter-censal
period immediately preceding*
Through the years, Palm Beach has become known the country
over as a resort for the rich. West Palm Beach, however, is now more
than a service center for the island, as was Flagler's original intent.
It has become a winter and summer resort in its own right, as well as
a trade and service center for the surrounding agricultural area. To¬
day the population of the mainland city is more than ten times that of
Palm Beach.
A consideration of some of the basic facts about the population

26
TABLE I
POPULATION OF WEST PAL/A BEACH, FOR CENSUS YEARS FROM 1900 TO 1950*
Year
Population
Increase Over Preceding
Census
Number
Per Cent
1900
564
—
—
1910
1,743
1,179
209.0
1920
8,659
6,916
396.0
1930
26,610
17,951
207.3
1940
33,693
7,083
26.6
1950
43,162
9,469
28.1
♦Source: Bureau of the Census, U. S. Census of Population: 1950.
Vol. I, Number of Inhabitants. Chapter 10: Florida, Washing¬
ton: Government Printing Office, 1951, p. 9*

27
of the city should furnish a valuable background for this study. As
had already been indicated, West Palm Beach had 43,162 inhabitants in
1950. This made it the eleventh largest city in the state of Florida.
Of this population, a large proportion are Negroes. In 1940,
the time of the last census for which such figures are available, 33.4
per cent of the total group were members of this race.* While practi¬
cally all of these persons were born here in the United States, a
number of the volites of the community migrated from foreign countries.
Thus foreign born whites constituted nine per cent of the white total
at that time.
Within the total West Palm Beach population there were In 1940
93.3 men for every 100 women. This preponderance of women is not un¬
usual for an urban area, particularly one with no heavy industry. The
sex ratio for the urban population of Florida in 1940 was 92.3, while
the comparable figure for the United States as a whole was 95.5.
Information on the age characteristics of the people of West
Palm Beach also deserves consideration. A complete, overall picture
of the age distribution of the community by sex may best be obtained
by use of the age-sex pyramid. Such graphs are prepared so that each
bar represents the percentage that an age category by sex is of the
total population represented. Figures I and 2 are pyramids for the
^Unless otherwise specified, the primary source of all popu¬
lation material presented in the remainder of this chapter is the
Sixteenth Census of the United States. 1940. Population. VoI. II,
Characteristics of the Population. Washington: Government Printing
Office, 1943

28
. Figure i. Age-Sex Pyramid for the White Population of West Palm Beach, 1940#
Source: U. S, Bureau of the Census, Sixteenth Census of the United States.
1940. Population. Vol. II, Characteristics of the Population. Washington:
Government Printing Office, 1943, part 2, p. 128.

29
Figure 2. Age-Sex Pyramid for the Non-White Population of West Palm
Beach, 1940,
Source: U. S. Bureau of the Census, Sixteenth Census of the Uni ted
States. 1940. Population. Vo I II, Character isrics ot tTTg Foffulat id'ri.
Washingtons Government Printing Office, 1943, part 2, p. 128.

30
white and non~white population of West Palm Beach, These graphs
clearly show a preponderance of people in the working age groups, A
low birth rate for the city, or a heavy migration to it, or both is
suggested by the relatively small group in the younger age groups of
both races. The differences between the white and Negro figures are
striking. There is a very much smaller proportion of aged persons in
the Negro than in the white group, and this seems to have been made up
by a larger proportion of negroes in the working ages. Most of this
racial difference probably was caused by a large migration of working
age Negroes into the city.
The birth and death rates and migration determine the changes
in size of a population over a given period. Birth rates are often
measured by an index known as the fertility ratio. This is the number
of children under 5, divided by the number of women aged 20-44, In
1940 this ratio for West Palm Beach was 241, which was almost the same
as the Florida urban value. Both of these, however, were somewhat be¬
low the ratio of 310 obtained for the urban population of.the entire
United States,
The death rate may be measured in a number of ways, all of
which depend upon state registration data. The crude death rate is
the number of recorded’deaths divided by the total population of an
area, times 1000. It is not very satisfactory for comparative purposes,
but is the most simple index to construct. In 1940 this rate was 10,6
for West Palm Beach, and 13.1 for all Florida cities of 10,000 to

31
100,000 population.2 These differences could simply reflect variations
in age distributions. At any rate it can probably be said that the
West Palm Beach rates are not excessively higher than would be expected
for a city of this size*
With a low birth rate, at least up to recent years, and a death
rate that does not appear to be excessively low or high, the population
of West Palm Beach would be expected to decline, if there were no move¬
ment into the area. The tremendous growth of the city then can be al¬
most entirely attributed to migration. This great influx of people is
very significant in an interpretation of the city's social phenomena*
For one thing it means that the population is very heterogeneous with
regard to origin within the United States*
An indication of this is given in a study made in 1942 by J. R.
Holt, of the part-time employment of Palm Beach High School students.3
For this project, questionnaires were distributed to 427 boys and girls
in the commercial and diversified training departments of the white
public high school* It was found that of this group of young people,
47 per cent were born in other states, 19 per cent in other parts of
Florida and only 30 per cent in the city of West Palm Beach* Thus over
half of the children in this sample belonged to families who were
2
Federal Security Agency, United States Public Health Service,
VitaI Statistics of the Uni ted States. 1940. Part 11, Washington:
U. S* Government Printing Office, 1943, p. 24, 182.
â– ^Jonathan R. Holt, "A Study of the Part Time Employment of Palm
Beach High School students," Unpublished M. A* Thesis, Gainesville*
University of Florida, 1942*

32
relatively recent migrants»
The Florida State Census of 1945 is another source which points
to the heterogeneity of the origins of those persons living in West
Palm Beach. In the published report of this enumeration, the nativity
of the residents of Florida was tabulated by counties»4 Of the 66,767
persons reported for Palm Beach County at that time, only 27 per cent
were born in Florida» About the same proportion of this group stated
that they had originated in some other southeastern state, while about
40 per cent gave one of the northern states as their places of birth»
The remaining county residents at that time were tabulated as foreign
born or as originally coming from one of the western states.
That West Palm Beach has functioned mainly as a trade and
service center, at least in recent years, is indicated by industry
group employment percentages from the 1940 census, which are tabulated
in Table 2. Here it is seen that more than half of the labor force of
15,192 at that time was reported in the wholesale and retail trade and
the personal service industry classifications. The Urban United States
classification, put in for comparison, shows that a greater proportion
of the labor force of West Palm Beach was working in these two indus¬
tries, as well as construction, than was the comparable group in all of
the nation's cities. The fact that almost one third of the West Palm
Beach workers were in the personal services at that time, as compared
to 10 per cent of the workers in the United States category, seems
^The Seventh Census of the State of Florida. 1945. Tallahassee?,
State Department of Agriculture? No date given, p. 91 - 120.

33
TABLE 2
PERCENTAGE DISTRIBUTION OF PERSONS IN THE LABOR FORCE, BY
INDUSTRY GROUPS, WEST PALM BEACH AND UNITED STATES
URBAN POPULATIONS, 1940*
Industry Group
West Palm Beach
Urban U. S.
Agriculture and mining
1.9
2.1
Construction
7.9
4.8
Manufacturing
4.8
29.2
Transportation, Communica¬
tion, Uti1¡ties
6.1
8.7
Wholesale and Retail Trade
26.3
21.4
Finance, Insurance, and
Real Estate
4.5
4.6
Business and Repair Services
2.5
2.2
Personal Service
30.4
10.8
Amusement and Recreation
2.8
1.2
Professional and Related
7.6
8.6
Government Work
3.2
4.7
Not Reported
2.0
1.5
♦Source: U. S, Bureau of the Census, Sixteenth Census of the Uni ted
States. 1940. Populat ion. Vol• II, Character istics of the
Population. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1943,
Part 2, p. 130 and Part I, p. 49*

34
particularly significant, along with the much greater proportion of
individuals engaged in manufacturing in urban areas over the country
than in the Florida city*
The importance of West Palm Beach as a residential center for
older people is highly pertinent to this study of the retired* Age
data from the 1940 census helps to give some perspective on this func¬
tion of the city* At the time 6*9 per cent of the total population
was 65 years of age or older. The 1940 age sex pyramids for the city,
introduced earlier in this chapter, showed the whites to have a much
greater representation proportionally in the older categories than did
the Negroes* Viewed another way, only 2.2 per cent of the total Negro
population of West Palm Beach at that time had reached their sixty-
fifth birthday, but 9.9 per cent of the white group could be classified
in this way*
To help illustrate the relative importance of the aged white
â– s-
population in West Palm Beach, as compared to other segments of the
population within the United States Figure 3 has been prepared, using
index numbers. With this technique, one of the populations is taken
as the base to which the others are related. The percentage distribu¬
tion by age for each population is first obtained. Then, age by age,
the populations separately are made proportional to the base popula¬
tion, while the base population is a straight line across the page*
It will be noted in Figure 3 that the U. S. white urban popu¬
lation is taken as the base, while the Florida white urban population,
the St. Petersburg white population and the West Palm Beach white popu¬
lation are used for comparison.

Source: U. S. Bureau of the Census, Sixteenth Census of the Uni ted States. 1940. Population
VoI II, Characteristics of the Population. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1943.

36
It is immediately obvious that all three of these groups have
a more important aged population than the United States as a whole.
All are above the 100 line beyond the age of 55. All three are also
below the line for ages less than thirty, showing a smaller proportional
number of younger persons in these groups as compared to the base.
In checking the extent of concentration of the aged for the
three Florida populations, the importance of this group in the city
of St. Petersburg stands out. Its line is lower than the others at the
younger ages, and does not cross 100 until the 40 - 44 age group, 10
years after the West Palm Beach and the Florida urban white segments.
After this the line for St. Petersburg soars above the others, reaching
a peak index number of 275 for the ages 70 - 74. This means that the
percentage of the total white population of St. Petersburg in this age
group is more than three times that of the same age group for the urban
white population of the entire United States.
By contrast with St. Petersburg, urban Florida and West Palm
Beach appear rather similar and remain close to the United States base
line. West Palm Beach has a higher proportion of its white population
in the aged and working age groups than does the Florida urban segment,
with a corresponding lower proportion in the younger intervals, but the
difference is slight. The fact that the Florida white urban segment
contains many cities obviously not functioning as centers for the aged,
and enjoying relatively high birth rates, would tend to show that West
Palm Beach is not nearly so important a haven for those in later years
as are many other Florida cities.

37
The recent origin of West Palm Beach, its tremendously rapid
growth, the racial and geographical heterogeneity of its people, its
general functions, and importance as a residential center for the aged,
are all important factors to be remembered in interpreting this study
of the retired group.

PART TWO
THE RETIRED POPULATION

CHAPTER IV
COMPOSITION
The examination of certain personal attributes should be
basic to any study of a population* Demographers recognize this fact,
and all modern census reports contain some tabulations on age, sex,
marital status, nativity, and other similar characteristics. The
respondents in the West Palm Beach survey of retired persons were asked
several questions of this nature in such a way that the information
could be tabulated for the total sample group. Some of the results
obtained will be discussed in this chapter*
Perhaps no other personal characteristic exerts more influence
on the roles played on the status enjoyed by an individual in our
society than does age* Retirement, for instance, which marks for many
a complete change in life, is often forced on the individual due to
limitations of advanced years*
That most of the retired persons of West Palm Beach are found
to be in the older age groups, is certainly not surprising* The median
age for the sample of 202 was 69.3 years. It is a mistake, however,
to think that all the retired are older people. Table 3 indicates that
this at least is not the case in one Florida city, with eligible per¬
sons interviewed in al I age groups down to and including the 35 to 39
year interval. It is interesting to note that most studies of the
older population of the United States are limited to those persons
above 65. In West Palm Beach 35 per cent of the sample group reported
38

39
TABLE 3
AGE DISTRIBUTION OF THE TOTAL SAMPLE, BY SEX,
WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Age Groups
Frequencies
Total
Male
Female
35 - 39
2
1
1
40 - 44
3
1
2
45 - 49
6
3
3
50 - 54
9
4
5
55 - 59
19
8
1 1
60 - 64
32
8
24
65 - 69
35
15
20
70 - 74
37
16
21
75 - 79
31
12
19
80 - 84
17
10
7
85 - 89
7
4
3
90 - 94
1
1
0
Age Not Ascertained
3
1
2
TOTAL
202
84
118

40
ages below this figure.
A comparison of the age distribution by sex shows that the
women were slightly younger than the men on an average. Thus, median
ages for the male and female segments were close together, but the
value for the males was higher, with 70.6 and 68.2 for the sexes
respectively.
Another difference in the age distribution by sex for the total
sample is that the females were grouped about the median age to a some¬
what greater extent than the males. Thus, while 61 per cent of the 84
males were between the ages of 60 and 79, 71 per cent of the 118 females
were in this category.
/tore persons were listed as being between the ages of 70 and
74 than in any other age group. This was true of both sexes, with 16
males and 21 females, or a total of 37 reported in this segment.
Of the 202 retired persons in the sample, 84 were men and 118
were women. Thus the sex ratio, 71 males per 100 females, was low. It
will be remembered that the corresponding figure for the total popula¬
tion of West Palm Beach in 1940 was 93.3.
Table 4 gives the marital status of the sample by sex. It is
seen that 60 per cent of the group was married, and one-third widowed.
Very few declared themselves to be single or divorced, as these seg¬
ments made up 4 and 1.4 per cent of the total sample respectively.
More than three-fourths of the men were married as compared to only one-
half of the women* On the other hand, over forty per cent of the females
were widowed, with less than twenty per cent of the men classed as

41
TABLE 4
MARITAL STATUS OF THE TOTAL SAMPLE, BY SEX,
WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Total
Male
Ferna1e
Marital Status
Number
Per
Cent
Number
Per
Cent
Number
Per
Cent
Married
124
61.4
64
76.1
60
50.9
Married—Not
with Spouse
2
1.0
1
1.2
1
0.8
Widowed
65
32.3
16
19.1
49
41.5
S i ng 1 e
8
4.0
3
3.6
5
4.3
Divorced
3
1.4
—
—
3
2.5
TOTAL j
202
100.0
84
100.0
118
100.0

42
widowers. The fact that men are more likely to remarry no doubt helps
to explain these differences.
Chapter III underscored the heterogeneity of the origins of
the people of West Palm Beach, and mentioned that the city appeared
to function to some degree as a residential center for older people
from other areas. Therefore it is not surprising to note on Figure 4
that the places of birth of the retired people in the total sample
varied widely in geographic location. Only one person was born in West
Palm Beach, only 12 in Florida and 45, less than one-fourth, in the
southeastern states. The map shows that the largest number came origi¬
nally from New York, followed by Pennsylvania, Illinois, Florida,
Georgia, Ohio, and Indiana.
A comparison, using Odum's regions of the United States, gives
results that are meaningful.* The northeast leads these areas, con¬
taining states that were reported by 35 per cent of the total sample,
followed by the southeast with 22 per cent and the middle states with
20 per cent. Evidently few of the retired persons living in West Palm
Beach were born in the west. Only six persons, or 2.8 per cent of the
total sample originally came from the northwest region and only one was
born in a far western state. None of this group was born in the
southwest.
The foreign born constitute an important part of the sample.
map delineating these regions will be found in the appendix.
Taken from Howard W. Odum, Southern Reqions of the United States. Chapel
Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1936, p. 246.

.Figure 4. State of Birth of Members of the Total Sample, West Palm Beach, 1951.

44
Eighteen per cent, or about one in six of the 202 retired persons
about which information was obtained reported some country other than
the United States as their place of birth. Of this group, six persons
were born in Canada, one in the British West Indies, and the other
thirty- one in various European nations.
Whether or not a person ts actively affiliated with a church,
his religious background often exerts a great influence on his atti¬
tudes and actions. Religious preference is therefore an important
characteristic to consider.
Evidently most of the retired people of West Palm Beach are
Protestants. Table 5 indicates that 85.6 per cent of the respondents
gave this preference, while 11.4 per cent were listed as Catholic,
two per cent as Jewish, and one per cent in the "Other" category. An
analysis by sex shows a slightly higher proportion of men than women
in the Protestant group, with the reverse holding true for the Catholic
classification.
Some amount of formal education has become almost essential
for survival in our complex urban way of life. Many years of academic
training, moreover, often are necessary for responsible positions in
society. Much of our cultural heritage is passed down to new genera¬
tions through the school. The amount of schooling which a person
masters is a basic factor, therefore, in determining his function and
status as well as greatly influencing his actions and attitudes.
The number of years of school completed was obtained for the
persons in the total sample group. In analyzing these data, it was

45
TABLE 5
RELIGIOUS PREFERENCE OF THE TOTAL SAMPLE, BY SEX,
WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Total
Male
Female
Religious Preference
Number
Per
Cent
Number
Per
Cent
Number
Per
Cent
Protestant
174
85.6
74
88.1
88
83.9
Catholic
23
11.4
7
8.3
16
13.6
Jewish
4
2.0
1
1.2
3
2.5
Other
2
1 .0
2
2.4
—
—
TOTAL
202
100.0
84
00.0
118
100.0

46
found that the median years of school completed by these people was
9.9. This is a high figure for a group who attended school from
thirty to seventy years ago. In fact the median for the total white
population of the United States in 1940 was only 8.4.2
The difference by sex was also unusual, with medians of 10.3
for the men and 9.5 for the women. Usually women show up higher than
men in measures of educational status.
Table 6 is a classification of the amount of schooling com¬
pleted by members of the total sample. Here it is shown that about
one in four of this group completed less than eight grades. Of the
almost three-fourths who finished more than 8 grades, half, or 36 per
cent of the total, finished high school. Only 15, or 7.5 per cent of
the 202 members of the total sample completed four or more years of
col Iege.
Table 6 also consistently shows the sex differences first re¬
vealed by the medians. Proportionately more men than women had com¬
pleted more than eight grades, more than twelve grades, and more than
four years of college, while the reverse was true for those attending
school less than eight years.
In this chapter certain personal attributes of the West Palm
Beach retired population have been discussed. The median age for the
sample group was shown to be 69.3, with individual reports ranging from
2
U. S. Bureau of the Census, Sixteenth Census of the Uni ted
States. 1940. Population. VoI• II, Characteristics of the Population.
Washington: Government Printing Office, 1943, Part I, P. 40.

47
TABLE 6
EDUCATIONAL STATUS OF PERSONS IN THE TOTAL SAMPLE, BY SEX,
WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Total
Ma le
Fema1e
Educational Status
Number
Per
Cent
Number
Per
Cent
Number
Per
Cent
Less Than Eight
Grades
47
25.3
19
22.6
28
23.8
Eight or More
Grades
149
73.8
63
75.3
86
72.8
Twelve or More
Grades
74
36.6
31
37.0
43
36.4
Four Years Col lege
or More
15
7.4
10
11.9
5
4.2

48
38 to 92 years. It was pointed out that approximately one-third are
under 65.
There are more retired women than men living in the city with
a sex ratio of about 74 for this group. Approximately one-half of the
people in the group are married, and one-third widowed. Proportionally,
more men are married and fewer widowed than is true for the women.
The places of birth of these people varied widely in geographic
location. Only about one person in twenty was born in Florida, while
about one in four originated in another southeastern state. About one-
half of the individuals in the group were born in a northern state, and
one-fifth in foreign countries.
Over three-fourths of the retired people are Protestants, and
most of the remainder are Catholic. There was only a very small number
of persons of the Jewish faith in the sample group.
About one-half of the retired persons have completed nine grades
of schooling, and almost one-third have graduated from high school.
These proportions seem somewhat high for those who received their for¬
mal education from thirty to seventy years ago.

CHAPTER V
THE RETIREMENT PROCESS
In studying a group of people it is not always sufficient to
learn something about their present characteristics, activities and
attitudes. Often data about the past of these persons also are ne¬
cessary to help complete the picture. Little information of a histori¬
cal nature was obtained from the West Palm Beach sample. The only
period in the past life of this group which was examined to any extent
was the time of their retirement.
For purposes of analysis, retirement may be considered a pro¬
cess, or period of change, through which individuals or couples pass.
It involves the cessation of work, in his main lifetime occupation, by
the principal wage earner of each family, as well as persons living
outside family groups.
By this definition, every member of the total sample group of
the West Palm Beach survey went through the retirement process at a
certain place and definite time. While the place of retirement for
the group will be considered indirectly in the chapter on migration,
this section will take up the time of this change, along with the pre¬
vious occupations of wage earners, and the principal reasons given by
this group for retirement.
Retirement has been a very recent event for at least one-half
of the sample group. Ninety-six of these 202 persons, comprising 47,5
per cent of the total, retired after 1945, Another 22,3 per cent were
49

50
in families in which the head ceased active working life between 1941
and 1945. Thus seven out of ten persons in the sample had entered
retirement status within the ten year period previous to the survey.
Out of the remaining 30 per cent one-half, or 15 per cent of the total
retired between 1930-40, and another nine per cent of the total between
1920-30, while one person entered this status in 1918. Information on
the time of retirement was not ascertained for ten persons, making five
per cent of the total group.
There were 140 principal wage earners for the members of West
Palm Beach sample, consisting of 122 men and 18 women. All of the 84
men in the present group were principal wage earners, while 38 men,
who were husbands of women in the sample, died previous to the survey.
The 18 women who were principal wage earners were ail in the pre¬
sent sample. Six were single or divorced, while the other 12 took on
the main employment obligation for their families on the death of
their husbands.
These wage earners were engaged in a wide variety of occupations
before their retirement as is clearly shown in Table 7. There it is
seen that 118 different means of livelihood were recorded for this
group of 140 persons*
Closer examination discloses that the occupations ranged from
bank president to day laborer. While it is difficult to classify
them in a meaningful way, perhaps a few observations can be made. When
divided into the rough dichotomy of "white collar" and "trade and
labor" workers, a few over half were found in the first group. Of this

51
TABLE 7
FORMER OCCUPATIONS OF PR INCI PAL WAGE EARNERS
WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Occupation
Total
Ma 1 e
Fema1e
Accountant (CPA)
1
1
0
Animal Hide Broker
1
1
0
Artist
1
1
0
Assistant Superintendent, Public Works
1
1
0
Auger Bit Maker
1
1
0
Automatic Signal Operator, Railroad
1
1
0
Barber
1
1
0
Bricklayer
1
1
0
Builder, Homes, and Real Estate Development
1
1
0
Butler
2
2
0
Buyer, Liquor Store
1
0
1
Carpenter
3
3
0
Cashier, Bank
1
1
0
Cashier, Restaurant
1
0
1
Chiropractor
1
1
0
Cigar Maker
1
1
0
Clerk, Grocery Store
1
0
1
Clerk, Army Quartermaster Corps,
1
1
0
Contractor
1
1
0
Contractor, Building
4
4
0
Contractor, Electrical
1
1
0
Contractor, Painting
1
1
0
Cook, Pastry
2
0
2
Dealer, Wholesale Vegetables
1
1
0
Electrician
2
2
0
Electro-typer
I
1
0
Engineer, Civil
2
2
0
Engineer, Electrical
1
1
0
Engineer, Maintenance
1
1
0
Enlisted Man, Army
1
1
0
Executive, Bank (President)
1
1
0
Executive Food Industry (Vico President)
1
1
0
Executive, Insurance Company
I
1
0
Executive, Newspaper
1
0
1
Fireman, City Fire Department
2
2
0
Foreman, Construction
1
1
0
Foreman, Pattern Shop
1
1
0
Funeral Director
1
1
0
Gardener
2
2
0
Gardener, (Yard Man)
1
1
0
Sub Total
51
45
6

52
TABLE 7
Continued
Occupation
Total
Male
Fema1e
Sub Total Forward
51
45
6
Gun Smith
2
2
0
Housekeeper, Hotel
1
0
1
Importer
1
1
0
Interior Decorator
1
1
0
Iron Worker, Construction
1
1
0
Laborer, Farm
1
1
0
Laundry Worker
1
0
1
Lawyer
1
1
0
Mail Carrier
1
1
0
Mail Dispatcher, Post Office
1
1
0
Manager, Dining Room and Hotel
1
0
1
Manager, Wholesale Drug Business
1
1
0
Manager, Woolen Mill
1
1
0
Medical Doctor (Surgeon)
1
1
0
Mechanic
1
1
0
Moulder, Iron Industry
1
1
0
Officer, Air Force
1
1
0
Officer, Army
1
1
0
Operator, Bakery
1
1
0
Operator, Farm
2
2
0
Operator, Truck Farm
1
1
0
Optometrist
1
1
0
Owner, Bank
1
1
0
Owner-Operator, Butcher Shop
1
1
0
Owner-Operator, Cigar Store
1
1
0
Owner-Operator, Department Store
1
1
0
Owner-Operator, Elevator Repair Service
1
1
0
Owner-Operator, Feed Store
1
1
0
Owner-Operator, General Store
1
1
0
Owner-Operator, Grocery Store
2
2
0
Ownei—Operator, Local Bus Line
1
1
0
Owner-Operator. Millinery Store
1
0
1
Owner-Operator, Motel and Gas Station
1
1
0
Owner-Operator, Office Supply Company
1
1
0
Ownei—Operator, Oil Supply Company
1
1
0
Owner-Operator, Printing and Engraving Plant
1
1
0
Sub Total
90
80
10

53
TABLE 7
Continued
Occupation
Total
Male
Fema1e
Sub Total Forward
90
80
10
Owner-Operator, Restaurant
1
1
0
Owner-Operator, Wholesale Lumber Business
1
1
0
Painter
1
1
0
Pattern Maker, Tool
1
1
0
Pharmicist, Owner, Drug Store
1
1
0
Photographer
1
1
0
Pilot, Air Line
1
1
0
PI umber
2
2
0
Po1iceman
1
1
0
Principal, Public School
2
1
1
Real Estate Broker
3
3
0
Road Builder, Municipal
1
1
0
Sales Manager
1
1
0
Salesman, Coal Business
1
1
0
Salesman, Dairy Business
1
1
0
Salesman, Hardware
1
1
0
Salesman, Insurance
1
1
0
Salesman, Motor Truck
1
1
0
Salesman, Paint and Varnish
1
1
0
Salesman, Real Estate
1
1
0
Salesman, Show
1
1
0
Salesman, Wholesale Confections
1
1
0
Salesman, Wholesale Grocery
2
2
0
Seamstress
1
0
1
Seamstress (Dressmaker)
3
0
3
Secretary
1
0
1
Sign Painter
1
1
0
Station Agent, Railroad
1
1
0
Statistician, Air Force
1
1
0
Steamer, Woolen Mill
1
1
0
Steamfitter
1
1
0
Stone Mason
1
1
0
Superintendent, Apartment Building
1
1
0
Superintendent, Paving Company
1
1
0
Teacher, Junior Col 1ege
1
1
0
Teacher, Public School
2
1
1
Tool and Die Maker
1
1
0
Sub Total
135
1 18
17

54
TABLE 7
Continued
Occupation
Total
Male
Fema1e
Sub Total Forward
135
118
17
Veterinarian
1
1
0
Watchman
1
1
0
Watchman, Millionaires Home
1
1
0
Worker, Sheet Metal
1
1
0
Never Worked
1
0
1
TOTAL
140
122
18

55
"white collar" group, there seem to be few persons who were in the
professions. Only one doctor and one lawyer appear, with five report¬
ing that they had worked in the teaching field. Altogether there were
about 12 individuals who could fall into the professional category.
There were also in the "white collar group", a few executives and
managers of business enterprises of all sizes. The largest single
number in this segment, however, are those who were the owners and
operators of their own businesses, which were mostly in the area of
retail trade. The next largest number includes the people who used to
be in clerical and sales work.
Of the persons in the trade and laboring group, the largest
number appear to have been in the skilled and semi-skilled trades.
There were a few foremen listed and several service workers, such as
cooks, firemen, etc. Only about half a dozen persons reported occupa¬
tions normally considered to be common labor.
It might be added here that according to another question on
the schedule 51 of the 140 principal wage earners, or 36 per cent of
the total, were self employed before retirement. One of the important
facets of this statistic is that self-employed persons often are able
to go through the retirement process gradually, which may make for an
easier adjustment than would an abrupt stoppage of work.
The industry groups reported for the principal wage earners at
the time of retirement have been classified according to the United
States Census breakdown, in Table 8. It may be noted that wholesale
and retail trade is the most important category, with 20.8 per cent of

56
TABLE 8
INDUSTRY GROUP DISTRIBUTION OF OCCUPATIONS OF PRINCIPAL
WAGE EARNERS, WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Industry Group
Frequency
Percentage
Agriculture
4
2.8
Construction
22
15.8
Manufacturing
14
10.0
Transportation, Communication,
Utilities
7
5.0
Wholesale and Retail Trade
29
20.8
Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate
8
5.7
Business and Repair Services
4
2.8
Personal Services
23
16.4
Professional and Related
10
7.2
Government
10
7.2
None
1
0.7
Not Ascertained
2
1.4
TOTAL
140
100.0

57
the 140 wage earners* This Is followed by Personal Services, construc¬
tion work, and government work, and manufacturing, In that order.
Some similarities are seen when this tabulation is compared
with the same type of classification for the total labor force in West
Palm Beach in 1940, which was discussed in Chapter III* In both cases,
wholesale and retail trade and domestic service are the dominant indus¬
tries, though this is not as pronounced with the sample group* Two
notable differences between the groups are the greater proportion of
those in the sample who were engaged in manufacturing, and in govern¬
ment work, as compared to the total West Palm Beach labor force a
decade ago* These variations probably reflect the different industry
group array for those wage earners included in the sample who spent
their working lives outside of West Palm Beach. Generalizations, how¬
ever, are risky, due among other things, to the different age and sex
distribution of the two groups.
The reasons why people retire is of paramount consideration in
the study of this process. Retirement is a change not always taken
voluntarily* In fact, it is common knowledge that many retired people
would continue work indefinitely if they had their choice* Some factor
or combination of factors then, has forced these persons to leave
active working life.
Voluntary retirement was certainly not usual for the West Palm
Beach sample group. The reasons given for the retirement of principal
wage earners from their occupations as tabulated in Table 9, all indi¬
cated involuntary retirement except one. This, the "tired of working"

58
TABLE 9
REASONS FOR THE RETIREMENT OF PRINCIPAL WAGE EARNERS,
WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Reason
Frequency
Percentage
Reached Compulsory Retirement Age
8
5.7
Forced Out of Business, or Lost Job
9
6.4
Poor Health or Physical Disability
68
48.7
Retired Due to Needs of Family Member
8
5.7
Entered Retirement Status on Husband's
Death
22
15.7
Tired of Working
9
6.4
Other and Not Specified
15
10.7
Never Worked
1
0.7
TOTAL
140
100.0

59
category, contains only nine persons, to make up 6.4 per cent of the
principal wage earners. Actually II of the "other and not specified"
group probably also retired voluntarily increasing the percentage who
were able to make this choice to 14.3.
Health appears to be the main factor causing forced retirement,
according to the table. It is seen that almost half of the wage earners
gave some reason connected with physical infirmities. This group in¬
cludes those forced to retire due to chronic illnesses or disabilities,
as well as a number whose faculties had become impaired so as to pre¬
vent them from carrying on their occupations.
Much has been written concerning the policies of employers
toward older workers. It has been pointed out that age is often a
poor index of ability in later maturity. For this reason, the desira¬
bility of the practice of forced retirement at an arbitrary age has been
questioned.*
Although this practice has received much attention, it
evidently was a cause of retirement for only a small group of wage
earners connected with the sample group. Only eight of these persons,
comprising 5.7 per cent of the total of 140, were reported to have been
required to stop work by their employers due to reaching an arbitrary
age limit.
Other economic reasons were central in forcing the retirement
*0tto Pollak, Social Adjustment in 01d Age. New Yorks Social
Science Research Council, 1948, 105-106.

60
of nine persons in the sample. Six of these were operating their own
businesses and felt more or less forced to retire when these failed or
ran into difficulties. The other three lost their jobs for one reason
or another, and were unable to obtain new work because of their advanced
age.
Another eight persons, making about 6 per cent of the total,
retired in order to give assistance to some member of the family.
Several, for instance, terminated their main lifetime occupations in
order to move south for the health of their wives.
Twenty-two men who died while working are included in the wage
earner group, because this event caused their wives, who are members
of the sample, to enter retirement status. This segment makes up 23
per cent of the 140 wage earners.
A brief look at the persons in the sample who were not princi¬
pal wage earners is desirable. This group consists of 100 females, as
it will be remembered that all 84 of the men in the sample were con¬
sidered principal wage earners, along with 18 women.
Most of the 100 women were and still are to some extent engaged
in their own home house-work. Thus retirement for them did not mean an
end of a main lifetime occupation. It will be recognized, however,
that retirement should nevertheless have marked important life changes
of most of these persons. This would certainly be true of the 22 women
of the group of 100 who were forced to enter this status on the death
of their spouses. AAost of the other 78 would have had to share, or at
least feel the indirect influence, of the impact of this process upon

61
their husbands» In addition, changes in such things as social status
and income due to retirement would naturally affect whole families,
including the members of this group»
In this chapter, some facts have been presented which relate
to the actual retirement of the group under investigation» Approxi¬
mately one-half of the total West Palm Beach group have retired since
1945, and about three-fourths since 1940» The principal wage earners
of the families of retired people living in the city previously were
engaged in a wide variety of occupations, about equally divided be¬
tween the "white collar" and the "trade and labor" groups. Evidently,
a large number of them were small business men, in clerical and sales
work, or in the skilled and semi-skilled trades, with a few professional
men and some common laborers included in the group»
Almost all of these principal wage earners were forced to leave
their main lifetime occupations against their wills. Health was the
factor which led most of these persons into involuntary retirement*
Very few were forced to leave their jobs due to reaching a compulsory
retirement age set by their employers» Some of the widows living in the
city many be considered to have entered the retired status at the death
of their husbands.
Retirement should have marked important life changes for all
the members of the retired group, including those who were not princi¬
pal wage earners at that time.

CHAPTER VI
MIGRATION
Migration is a phenomenon of great social significance* The
influx of persons from one or many cultural backgrounds can have a
tremendous effect upon the social processes and structure of a given
society, as well as upon its population size and composition.
In Chapter III the importance of migration to the city of
West Palm Beach was emphasized as the main cause of its remarkable
growth, and an influencing factor in other of the city's characteristics.
It was thus not surprising to note in the following chapter that all
but one of the persons contained in the sample moved to this city some
time after his birth.
The present discussion, however, is focused mainly upon a
special type of migration, which has become really important on a
national scale only within the past two decades. This is the movement
of persons, after their retirement, to a new permanent home. As was
stated in the introduction, the recognition of the importance of the
recent migration of retired persons into Florida was one of the salient
reasons for carrying out this study.
The results of the sample survey indicate that a large propor¬
tion of the retired people in West Palm Beach moved to that city after
their retirement. This was true of 131 or 65 per cent of the total
sample group. Further research, however, may show conclusively that
this proportion is low as compared to several other Florida cities. It
62

63
will be remembered that the age data in Chapter III seemed to indicate
that West Palm Beach does not have as great a proportion of older per¬
sons as some other Florida cities. This is especially true in compar¬
ing West Palm Beach to St. Petersburg, according to that analysis.
Further evidence is revealed in the fact that 91 per cent of the sample
in the survey of St. Petersburg's retired people spent their working
years in some other area.*
A comparison of the approximate time that the retired members
of the sample moved to West Palm Beach is given in Table 10. In this
tabulation the data are further subdivided to show the number who were
retired at the time of migration to the city and the number retiring
subsequently to the migration. It is seen that some persons who moved
to this city before their retirement did so as early as 1910, while
others of this segment migrated within the five year period prior to
the survey. The largest number of the group, however, arrived in the
city early in their working lives, with almost one-half coming in the
period 1916 to 1925. It is interesting to note that these years
closely correspond to the time of the city's greatest growth.
By contrast, most of the individuals coming to West Palm
Beach after their retirement did so within recent years. Seventy-nine
of the 131 persons in the segment, comprising 60 per cent of the total,
moved to the Florida city between 1946 and 1950. Only ten per cent of
* Irving L. Webber, The Retired Population of St. Petersburg
It's Characteristics and Social Situation. Tallahassee: Florida State
Improvement Commission, 1951, p. 26.

64
TABLE 10
NUMBER OF YEARS WHICH MEMBERS OF THE TOTAL SAMPLE LIVED IN
WEST PALM BEACH, BY RESIDENCE BEFORE RETIREMENT,
WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Years
Total
Lived in
West Palm Beach
Before Retirement
Lived Elsewhen
Before
Retirement
Number
Per¬
centage
Number
Per¬
centage
Number
Per¬
centage
0-4
85
42.1
6
8.4
79
60.3
5-9
27
13.4
2
2.8
25
19.1
10 - 14
20
9.9
5
7.0
15
11.5
15 - 19
1 1
5.4
3
4.2
8
6.1
20 - 24
8
4.0
6
8.4
2
1.5
25 - 29
25
12.4
23
32.4
2
1.5
30 - 34
10
4.9
10
14.2
—
35 - 39
7
3.5
7
9.8
—
mmmm ■»
40 - up
6
3.0
6
8.5
—
—
Not Ascer-
tained
3
1.4
3
4.2
—
TOTAL
202
100.0
71
100.0
131
100.0

65
the post-retirement migrants settled in West Palm Beach before 1936»
While mortality rates would have to be considered before
definite conclusions could be made, these data indicate that the move¬
ment of people already retired into West Palm Beach is taking place at
an increasing rate.
Knowledge about the places which the 202 retired persons in the
total sample lived before they retired is essential for an understand¬
ing of post-retirement migration. The map which is Figure 5 gives
this information by states* Seventy one persons, making up 35 per cent
of the total group, lived in West Palm Beach before retirement, while
13 others lived elsewhere in Florida. The remaining 118 persons moved
from another state to take up permanent residence in the city under
examination. New York, with 27, was the previous home of the greatest
number of persons in the sample, followed by Pennsylvania and Illinois,
both of which contained 15 persons, and Florida* Massachusetts is
next with eight persons reporting it as the state they lived in
before retirement, followed by New Jersey with seven and Connecticut
with six* Ohio was the previous residence of five of the group, while
each of 13 other states, all but two of which are east of the Mississippi,
was the home of three, two, or one sample member during his working
years* Canada is the only foreign country represented, with one person
in the sample listing it as his place of residence before retirement*
When tabulated according to Odum's Regions, these data show

Figure 5. State of Previous Residence of Those in the Total Sample Who Moved to the City
After Retirement, West Palm Beach, 1951*

67
that over half of the persons who migrated after their retirement came
from the northeast.2 A little over 20 per cent of these 131 persons
came from all parts of the southeast except West Palm Beach, with about
the same proportion of the individuals in this segment reporting that
they lived in one of the middle states before the principal wage earner
of their family ceased work.
While knowing the state and region in which the sample group
lived before retirement is very important in understanding the retired
population of West Palm Beach a consideration of the type of area in
which the person previously resided is of equal significance. The
difference between rural and urban life, and between urban life in
cities of different sizes, is at least as great as general regional
and state variations in influencing the individual personality.
In recognition of this, Table II was made, in which the places
of residence before retirement, of the 131 persons living outside of
West Palm Beach at that time, are tabulated according to their popu¬
lation size in 1940. A notable point, immediately evident from the
table, is that almost all of the sample evidently spent their working
lives in urban areas, that is, incorporated places of more than 2,500
persons. Only seven of the 131 persons reported having lived in
smaller villages or in the open country. Of the urban residents, it
is seen that most lived in the great metropolitan centers of our nation.
2
A map delineating these regions will be found in the appendix.
Taken from Howard W. Odum, Southern Regions of the United States.
Chapel Hi 11i Tfr University of North Carolina Press, 1936, p. 246.

68
TABLE I I
SIZE OF COMMUNITY OF PREVIOUS RESIDENCE, FOR THOSE IN THE TOTAL SAMPLE
WHO MOVED TO WEST PALM BEACH AFTER RETIREMENT,
WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Size of Community
(Number of Inhabitants, 1940)
Frequency
Percentage
Rural Areas
(Open country and villages with
less than 2,500 inhabitants)
7
5.3
2,500 to 5,000
8
6.1
5,000 to 10,000
1 1
8.4
10,000 to 25,000
14
10.7
25,000 to 50,000
6
4.6
50,000 to 100,000
10
7.6
100,000 to 250,000
8
6.1
250,000 to 500,000
5
3.3
500,000 to 1,000,000
9
6.9
1,000,000 to 4,000,000
20
15.2
New York City and Environs
27
20.6
Not Ascertained
6
4.6
TOTAL
131
100.0

69
Thus the largest single group of all, 27 persons, comprising,
incidentally, all of the persons who gave New York as their state of
previous residence, lived in or around New York City* This is 20 per
cent of the post-retirement segment, while another 15 per cent reported
having lived in other cities with greater than 1,000,000 population,
including Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia. Taken together, about
60 per cent of the segment resided in urban centers larger than West
Palm Beach before they retired.
Presumably, economic opportunity would be one of the main
factors attracting persons to West Palm Beach before their retirement.
The reasons, however, compelling persons of later years to make such
a change, often involving a move of hundreds of miles, adjusting to a
new environment, and developing a complete new set of social relation¬
ships, demands close examination.
Superficially it might appear that climate and recreational
opportunities would be primary reasons. Yet, many cities in Florida
offer these. One of the purposes of this survey was to try to get at
the reasons for coming to West Palm Beach, as given by the retired
people themselves. To accomplish this several "open" questions were
asked, and an effort made to record the exact answers of the respondents.
The results were not entirely satisfactory, as it was difficult to get
many persons to express themselves adequately, and there was no
assurance that everyone correctly stated the reasons for his move. Then
too, many persons no doubt made the change for a number of reasons which
would be difficult if not impossible for them to evaluate on short

70
notice. The answers which were given, however, do tell a great deal.
One of the most surprising things to come out of the survey
was that for fully one-third of the post-retirement migrants, the attrac¬
tion of Florida's climate and fame as a resort had little effect on their
move. These persons stated that they left their previous home after
retirement in order to be near or live with children or relatives al¬
ready living in West Palm Beach. Thus the reason for the movement of
this group to Florida and to West Palm Beach was the same. It should
be brought to mind, however, that the relatives of these persons may
themselves have been attracted to the state by its mild weather and
related advantages.
Climate appeared to be pre-eminent reason for the migration to
Florida of the other two-thirds of the segment coming to West Palm
Beach after retirement. For fifteen persons in this group, the health
value of a moderate climate motivated the move.
A number of factors appeared to encourage the settlement in
West Palm Beach, rather than any other Florida city, of those migrants
not coming to be with relatives. About one in three of these 88 per¬
sons stated that he had been to West Palm Beach as a winter visitor
before raking up permanent residence there. A few persons, before
settling after retirement, traveled over Florida and found West Palm
Beach to be more to their liking than any other place. Four persons
were attracted to the city by friends already living there. Most of
the others in the group were unable to give a specific reason for mov¬
ing to the city under examination. This in itself may be significant

71
in indicating that chance factors prevailed in some cases*
The city of West Palm Beach evidently is doing very little to
try to attract retired persons. Several undertakings of the Chamber
of Commerce, however, may be having at least an indirect effect on the
rate of migration of this group. Thus, to help encourage tourists,
this organization places advertisements in many leading magazines and
northern newspapers* These probably attract the attention of retired
people in other areas, as well as potential tourists, some of whom,
the survey has shown, would eventually retire to the city*
Another activity of the Chamber of Commerce, which may encour¬
age the movement of retired persons into the city is that of answering
their written inquiries* Ten such letters, for instance, were re¬
ceived and answered between June I and July 15, 1951* Parts of some
of these are reproduced in the chapter on the housing situation, for,
without exception, they were requests for information on housing in the
city* It would appear significant that prospective migrants would not
be interested in getting information from the Chamber of Commerce on
such things as cultural advantages, recreational facilities, etc.,
offered by the city. This seems to indicate that for many migrants,
climate is the main factor motivating them to come to Florida, while
the selection of a specific city depends more on economic and housing
considerations than upon activities or other advantages offered there*

72
Several facts have been brought out in this study of migration.
The information obtained strongly indicates that West Palm Beach
functions less as a retirement center than do many Florida cities*
Nevertheless, at least 65 per cent of the retired group in this
community migrated to the city after their retirement. Sample data,
backed by census analyses for the state as a whole, seem to show that
aged and retired persons are moving to the city at an increasing
rate. Most of the migrants now in the city, moreover, came within the
last five years, and largely from urban areas in the northeastern part
of the United States. Fully 60 per cent of the post-retirement mi¬
grants in the sample group came from cities which were larger than
West Palm Beach in 1940.
Approximately one-third of the persons who migrated to West
Palm Beach since their retirement did so to live with or to be near
relatives. Climate is the main factor which motivated the most of
others to Florida, while the choice of a specific city depended for
them upon a number of things. About one-third of this segment chose
West Palm Beach on the basis of their experiences as winter visitors,
while several traveled over Florida before deciding to settle in this
community. Economic and housing considerations probably were important
also for many of these persons in the selection of a new city in which
to live*

PART THREE
HOUSING, ECONOMIC AND HEALTH STATUS

CHAPTER V11
THE HOUSING SITUATION
The housing situation of persons who are retired would be
expected to have a great effect on the well-being of these individuals,
while at the same time reflecting their general economic and social
situation.
The first section of these chapter considers the retired people
of the sample as a group; concentrating on their living arrangement
and their attitudes pertaining to some aspects of housing. The next
part focuses upon the dwelling units of the sample, covering a distri¬
bution of the kind of units included, the number of persons in each,
and the tenure and approximate value of those headed by retired persons.
In the last section the wants and needs of prospective home
owners, who are retired and plan to settle in West Palm Beach, are
discussed.
In the retirement years, many persons are forced to change their
living arrangements. With advancing age, more and more married couples
are separated by death, and the surviving spouse is most often faced
with either living alone or moving into the home of one of the
children. Often too, infirmities connected with aging demand that a
retired person should seek to obtain special care in an institution
or in the home of a relative. These changes are usually disruptive to
say the least, and many times are the center of serious adjustment
problems.
73

74
The living arrangements for all the persons in the West Palm
Beach sample are tabulated in Table 12* Apparently almost one-half of
this group has had to make some change in this aspect of their lives.
The marital status classification given in Chapter III indicates that
96 per cent of the sample were married at one time* Yet, when the
survey was taken, only 58 per cent, or 117, of the persons in the total
group were still living with a spouse.
Of these 117 individuals, 107 were people living with the
spouse only* The other ten were five married couples, who lived with
their children. Of the latter group, three couples had actually
changed their living arrangement, as they were living in homes headed
by a son or a son-in-law. Another 28 persons according to the Table,
who constituted 13.8 per cent of the total, were widows or widowers
also living in the homes of their children. Thirty-one persons or
about 15 per cent of the total sample lived alone when the survey was
taken, while eight lived with one other retired person.
Eighteen members of the sample were found to be living under
various other living arrangements. These included a married couple
and a retired boarder in the same dwelling unit, and retired persons
living with their nieces, nephews, or other persons still actively
working.
Differences by sex in living arrangement were caused mainly
by the higher proportion of marri ed men than women in the sample. Thus
a larger percentage of women than men live alone, or with their children,
and a smaller percentage of this sex live with a spouse.

75
TABLE 12
LIVING ARRANGEMENT OF MEMBERS OF THE TOTAL SAMPLE, BY SEX
WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Tota 1
Ma 1 e
Female
Living Arrangements
Number
Per¬
centage
Number
Per¬
centage
Number
Per
centage
Lives Alone
31
15.3
8
9.5
23
19.5
Lives with ChiIdren
28
13.8
7
8.3
21
17.7
Lives only with Spouse
107
53.0
55
65.5
52
44.2
Lives with Spouse and
ChiIdren
10
5.0
5
5.9
5
4.2
Lives with other Retired
Persons
8
4.0
3
3.6
5
4.2
Other Living Arrangement
18
8.9
6
7.2
12
10.2
TOTAL
202
100.0
84
100.0
118
100.0

76
An attempt was made to find out how the members of the sample
felt about their housing conditions* All respondents, that is members
of the short sample, were asked whether or not they considered their
present living quarters to be satisfactory for their needs. The re¬
sults, tabulated in Table 13, seem to show that most of this group
answered the question in the affirmative, while 13.5 per cent replied
they were not satisfied, and four persons, or 2.9 per cent did not
know. This question was not answered by four others* Differences
by sex, as shown in the table, indicate that a larger proportion of the
females queried are dissatisfied as compared to the males. This varia¬
tion, however, does not appear to be significant.
It was impossible to know whether or not the respondents
answered this question truthfully. In the course of making most of
the interviews, however, the writer got the feeling that "resigned to"
rather than truly "satisfied with" would more adequately describe the
feelings of a number of the respondents with regard to their living
quarters.
A question which has caused some speculation is whether or not
retired persons prefer to live near individuals their own age. In try¬
ing to get some objective information on this matter, members of the
short sample were asked whether or not they thought retired people were
happier living in a neighborhood made up mostly of middle aged and older
people. The replies which they gave are presented in Table 14. They
are rather inconclusive, due to the large "don't know" category. Thus,
for the total group, while almost twice as many persons said yes as no,

77
TABLE 13
ATTITUDES OF PERSONS IN THE SHORT SAMPLE TOWARDS LIVING QUARTERS,
BY SEX, WEST PAL/A BEACH, 1951
Attitudes
Total
Male
Fema1e
Number
Per¬
centage
Number
Per¬
centage
Number
Per¬
centage
Satisfied
113
80.7
57
83.8
56
77.8
Not Satisfied
19
13.5
6
8.8
13
18.1
Don't Know
4
2.9
2
2.9
2
2.8
Not Ascertained
4
2.9
3
4.5
1
1.3
TOTAL
140
100.0
68
100.0
72
100.0

78
TABLE 14
ATTITUDES OF PERSONS IN THE SHORT SAMPLE TOWARDS LIVING IN A NEIGHBORHOOD
OF OLDER PEOPLE, BY SEX, WEST PALM BEACH, 1952
Attitudes
Total
Ma
1 e
Fema1e
Number
Per¬
centage
Number
Per¬
centage
Number
Per¬
centage
Yes
55
39.2
32
47.1
23
31.9
No
32
22.9
15
22.1
17
23.7
Don’t Know
46
32.9
19
27.9
27
37.4
Not Ascertained
7
5.0
2
2.9
5
7.0
TOTAL
140
100.0
68
100.0
72
100.0

79
one person in three said that he did not know* There is considerable
difference by sex in the "yes" and'don’t know" categories, with fewer
women saying yes and more answering that they did not know than was
true for the men.
One reason for the high occurance of "don't know" answers to
this question is that many of the respondents, particularly in the
older age groups, had difficulty in understanding the query because it
was somewhat hypothetical* Another possible reason could stem from
the urban background of many members of this group. A number of the
persons in the sample, as was demonstrated in the chapter on migration,
spent their working years in large cities, where neighboring is usually
at a minimum. Some of these people might have felt that it made little
difference who one's neighbors were, so long as they were unobtrusive.
Thus they probably would have had no opinion on the question. A real
estate salesman, interviewed to get background material on housing,
stated that he had never had a retired client include, in his specifi¬
cations for a future home, that it should be in a neighborhood already
containing people of advanced ages*
It appears, then, that at least half of the members of the
short sample group do not necessarily feel that it is desirable for
retired persons to live in neighborhoods made up mostly of people who
are close to their own age*
The health and welfare of a group of people is directly depend¬
ent upon adequate housing facilities. Information on the quality of
their dwelling units is, in addition, a fair index of economic status.

80
For the 202 retired persons about which information was ob¬
tained in the West Palm Beach survey, there were lo4 separate house¬
holds, or dwelling units. Almost all of these, 116, were indiviaual
houses# Eight of the remainder were single or duplex apartments, six
were housed in multiple apartment houses, three were in trailers, and
one was in a rooming house#
While no objective observations were made, the impression of
the writer during the course of the interviewing was that the housing
for the West Palm Beach sample was, on the whole, adequate. Only a
few of the dwelling units appeared to be delapidated, and not many of
them were observed to be noticeably in need of repair. On the other
hand, there were few houses in the luxury class, and almost all of them
must have been at least 10 years old#
Taken as a group, these units did not appear to be overcrowded.
At any rate the average number of persons reported, 2.3 per unit, is
low. Table 15 gives a distribution of the 134 households in the sample
by the number of persons living in each. This tabulation shows that
exactly one-half of the units housed two persons. The next largest
number, 23 per cent of the total, were units in which only one person
lived# The other quarter of the dwelling places, each of which housed
more than two persons, were mostly those in which members of the sample
lived with the families of younger relatives.
The legal rights which people have to their dwellings is basic
to any consideration of housing. A grouping of the sample dwellings
by tenure shows that 36, or more than one in four of them, are owned or

81
TABLE 15
SIZES OF FAMILIES IN SAMPLE HOUSEHOLDS, WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Number of Persons
Frequency
Percentage
1
31
23.1
2
67
50.0
3
15
11.2
4
1 1
8.2
5
6
4.5
6 or more
4
3.0
TOTAL HOUSEHOLDS
134
100.0

82
rented by someone who is not retired. It will be remembered that about
20 per cent of the sample were found to be living with their children.
Most of these homes were under the jurisdiction of the offspring
rather than the retired person.
By far the majority of the 98 retired persons who were heads
of households owned their homes. Eighty-six persons, making up 88
per cent of this segment said that they were home owners, with the
other twelve heads reported as renters.
The dwelling units referred to by these 98 persons, on an
average, were rather modest. Home owners in the group were asked to
give the approximate value of their dwellings, and the median value of
these reports was $10,000. A distribution of the values of homes
owned by retired persons is given in Table 16. It is seen that more
dwellings were reported in the $I0,000-$I4,000 range than in any other
group interval. Seven of the 86 houses were valued by their owners
at less than $5,000, while the most expensive dwelling was listed at
$50,000.00
Of the residents for the 12 dwelling units which were rented,
five refused to give the amount of their monthly rental. The seven
reported values were somewhat low, ranging from $12 to $60 per month.
It v/as stated in the chapter on migration that many of the
inquiries which the West Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce received from
retired people interested in moving to the city concern housing. The
ten letters which were received between June I and July 15, 1951, were
made available for this study. An examination of some of these letters

83
TABLE 16
APPROXIMATE VALUES OF HOMES OWNED BY RETIRED PERSONS IN THE TOTAL
SAMPLE, WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Va 1 ue
Frequency
Percentage
Under $5,000
7
8.9
$5,000 to $9,999
23
29.1
$10,000 to $14,999
25
31.6
$15,000 to $19,999
14
17.7
$20,000 and up
10
12.7
TOTAL
79
100.0

84
should give insight into the housing needs of prospective migrants who
are retired*
Most of the persons who wrote in during this time were inter¬
ested in whether or not a small house would be available within their
means. This was usually one selling for about $10,000 or renting for
about $50 per month. One of the letters in this group was a little
more specific. A part of it is quoted here:
I have in mind a single-story dwelling, consisting of,
say, a large combination living and dining room, one large
bed room, a fairly large kitchen capable of accommodating
modern labor saving devices and utilities, together with
another medium-sized chamber, and, of course, a bath-room.
A double garage would be desirable. The lot need not be
large, say 85 by perhaps 150. A preferred location would
be beyond the city's congestion and yet not so remote as to
make ordinary shopping a hardship. I would like to get all
this for about $10,000. I realize that this is probably
one-half of what I would pay for a similar layout up here,
and, therefore, my request, or hopes, may be utterly un¬
reasonable. I don't know and that is why I am writing to
you. . •
It may be that this man's desires concerning house location
are shared by others. In carrying out the survey, it was noted that
the sample blocks with the heaviest concentration of retired persons
were located near suburban shopping centers.
Another letter asked about the possibilities of getting invest¬
ment property:
I expect to retire in about two or three years, and
my sister and I are considering West Palm Beach. We
expect to visit there in August of this year, with the
prospect of looking around for something to purchase,
which will include living quarters for ourselves, and one
or two small renting units, at a moderate price. . •
One person probably desired to supplement his income by part-time
farming:

85
I am interested in a place with three to five acres
of within two to five miles of the city limits. . .
To obtain more complete information on the housing needs and
wants of retired people who migrate to West Palm Beach, the head of
one of the largest real estate firms In town was interviewed, along
with one of his salesmen.
According to this real estate broker, the number of retired
persons purchasing homes in West Palm Beach has been increasing over
the past few years.
Many of these people do not have anything special in mind
before buying, though most seem to prefer a two bed-room ground-floor
bungalow. He added that every once in a while a retired person will
request a place suitable for some part-time farming.
A few retired persons are interested in buying small businesses
for investment purposes, such as bars, restaurants, and women's apparel
stores, he stated. Those with more money sometimes want to get a
motor court or apartment house. Often the investment property in which
they are interested is on the outskirts, or off the main highways,
where land values are not so high.
The salesman who was interviewed estimated that about 18 per
cent of the residential property which he had sold, during the 12 month
period prior to the survey, was to retired persons. He doubts if this
percentage has changed much over the years. He also noted that close
to five per cent of the investment property which he had sold during
the same period was to retired people wishing to supplement their
incomes

86
He agreed with his employer in saying that members of the
retired group generally prefer two bedroom bungalows of one story»
About 90 per cent of his retired customers buy property valued at
under $10,000. In addition, he has found that most of these people
do not prefer the newer houses, and usually want a place already
furnished, so that they can move in immediately*
The findings of this chapter have shown that the housing situa¬
tion for the retired people of West Palm Beach is about is satisfactory
as could be expected for a general population group. Approximately
every other one of these retired individuals is still living with
spouse only, while one in six is living alone and one in five with a
relative» Answers to attitude questions in the survey schedule indi¬
cated that most of the members of this retired group are not actively
dissatisfied with their housing, and at least one-half of them do not
care whether or not other older people live in their own neighborhood.
The dwellings, on the whole, are not overcrowded. More than
one-fourth of the households in which retired persons live are headed
by Individuals who are still working. Almost all of the retired per¬
sons maintaining their own homes are owners, rather than renters. The
value of these homes are probably rather modest on an average, with the
median value reported for the sample at $10,000.
Retired persons contemplating migration to West Palm Beach
usually desire to buy two bed-room, one-story houses valued at about
$10,000, though some want investment property, or land suitable for
part-time farming.

CHAPTER VIII
• ECONOMIC STATUS
Physical needs must be met as long as life continues. Provid¬
ing economic security, after working years are over, is thus the basic
problem to be faced upon retirement.
Only indirect information was obtained on the economic status
of the West Palm Beach sample group. No question on income was in¬
cluded, as it was felt that non-response would be high, giving biased
results for the total group. Data on occupation before retirement,
and type of housing, however, which have been discussed in previous
chapters, can give clues to the economic level of the group. This in¬
formation, it will be remembered, indicated that there were few people
of wealth in the sample. While a number of persons may be found in the
lower levels of income, as inferred from these indices, the majority of
the people appeared to be of moderate means. Thus, skilled labor and
clerical and sales work predominated the occupational classification,
while the median value of the 86 homes owned by retired people in the
sample was $10,000.
One question was included in the schedule, which in some respects
is more valuable than direct information on income. It is well recog¬
nized that the level of living, or income of a person does not ade¬
quately reflect his adjustment to economic problems unless it is related
to his standard of living; that is, the quantity and type of goods and
services to which he is accustomed. Thus, two individuals, receiving
87

88
the same income, might have completely opposite views on its adequacy.
In an effort to get at this relationship respondents were asked the
question: "How do you feel about your income as compared to your
needs? Comfortable? Enough to get along?, or, Can't make ends meet?"
Table 17 presents the results of this query. Of the 140 members
of the short sample, 31, or 22 per cent stated that they were comforta¬
ble, 63 (45 per cent) said that they had enough to get along, while
38 (or 27 per cent) could not make ends meet. An answer to this
question was not obtained from eight members of the group. From this
it is seen that at least one member of one family group out of four in
the total sample felt that he was faced with a serious economic
problem.
To get an idea of the financial burden carried by the retired
heads of households, a question was asked to determine the number of
persons dependent upon this group. This information is given in Table
18* It is immediately seen that 60 per cent of the retired heads had
no one dependent upon them. As would be expected, the difference by
sex here is marked. Thus, only 44 per cent of the males had no
dependents, as compared to 83 per cent of the females»
There was a total of 54 persons who were classified as being to
some extent dependent upon the male retired heads. Of these, 44 were
wives of members of this segment.* The other ten for the male heads
along with all twelve persons dependent upon female heads were related
*The other 16 married women in the sample were for various rea¬
sons not reported as being dependent upon their husbands.

89
TABLE 17
ATTITUDES OF PERSONS IN THE SHORT SAMPLE TOWARDS PRESENT INCOMES,
WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Attitudes
Number
Percentage
Comfortable
31
22.2
Enough to Get Along
63
45.0
Can't Make Ends Meet
38
27.1
Not Ascertained
8
5.7
TOTAL
140
100.0

TABLE 18
NUMBER OF PERSONS DEPENDENT UPON RETIRED HOUSEHOLD HEADS,
WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Number of Persons
Total
Ma le
Fema1e
Number
Per¬
centage
Number
Per¬
centage
Number
Per¬
centage
0
84
60.0
37
44.0
47
83.9
1
48
34.3
42
50.0
6
10.7
2
6
4.3
3
3.6
3
5.4
3
2
1.4
2
2.4
-
—_
TOTAL
140
100.0
84
100.0
56
100.0

91
to the family groups in some other way. Most of these 22 were sisters,
brothers, or children of members of the sample groups, who lived in
West Palm Beach.
While traditionally, assistance from relatives, and savings have
been the main sources of income for individuals past their working years,
many retired persons today must rely on other sources to sustain them¬
selves.2 The West Palm Beach group is evidently no exception to this
generalization, with more than eleven types of income sources reported
for the retired household heads. These sources of income are presented
in Table 19 according to the frequency with which they were reported.
Savings and assistance from relatives were still important means
of support for this group, as they rank third and fourth in the Table.
Nevertheless, the percentages show one or the other was a source of in¬
come for only about one household head out of four.
Pensions were the most frequently mentioned means of support.
Exactly one-half of the group listed some type, including social
security, industrial, government, and others. The importance of this
means of support for the sample is emphasized even more, when it is
recalled that 36 per cent of the household heads at the time of retire¬
ment operated their own businesses.
Next to pensions in importance comes real estate rentals, which
was reported as source of income for 34, or 24 per cent of the 140
^Otto Pollak, Soci a I Adjustment in 01 d Age. New York: Social
Science Research Council, 1948, p.126.

92
TABLE 19
SOURCES OF INCOME REPORTED BY RETIRED HOUSEHOLD HEADS,
WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Source
Frequency
Percentage of
Household Heads
Listing Each Source
Pensions (Except Social Security)
44
31.4
Real Estate Rentals
34
24.2
Savings
34
24.2
Assistance from Relatives or
Friends
32
22.8
Social Security
26
18.5
Stocks and Bonds
23
16.4
Other Investments
15
10.7
Part-time Employment
13
9.2
Life Insurance Annuities
13
9.2
Old Age Assistance
9
6.4
Loans and Mortgages
7
5.0
Other
2
1.4
TOTAL
252

93
sample family groups. Stocks and bonds, and other investments, rank
sixth and seventh, directly below social security. They are followed
by part-time employment, life insurance annuities, old age assistance,
and loans and mortgages, al I five of which were claimed by less than
10 per cent of the sample.
It will be noted that 252 sources of income were listed for the
140 retired household heads, making an average of about two sources per
family. A more accurate classification of the number of sources re¬
ported is found in Table 20. Here it is seen that almost 00 per cent
of the respondents listed one or tvo means of support. Fifteen per
cent listed three means while only four persons, or 2.9 per cent of the
total, gave four means. The four remaining household heads refused to
divulge their sources of income.
Social security benefits were seen to provide a part of the in¬
come for a significant portion of the sample. To obtain more insight
into this program and its significance in West Palm Beach, an official
of the district Social Security Office, located in the city, was inter¬
viewed.
This official stated that on March I, 1951, there were in Palm
Beach County 2,399 persons of 65 or over receiving social security
benefits. Most of these were living in West Palm Beach. That month,
$104,397 was paid to this group, making an average payment of $43.50
for each eligible person.
There has been a net increase of recipients from this office
during the past several years, the official pointed out. He was of

94
TABLE 20
NUMBER OF MEANS OF SUPPORT REPORTED BY RETIRED HOUSEHOLD HEADS,
WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Number of A\eans
Frequency
Percentage
1
49
35,0
2
62
44.2
3
21
15.0
4
4
2.9
Not Ascertained
4
2.9
TOTAL
140
100.0

95
the opinion that this is partly due to the broadening base of eligible
persons, and partly due to an increase of older people living in the
area.
There was an approximate increase of 50 per cent in the number
of recipients for the state of Florida between February, 1950, and the
same month of 1951. This was the highest increase of six southeastern
states. He believed that this area of Florida has increased in this
respect more than the state as a whole.
The official explained that everyone receiving a check in the
area must have his files in this office. Thus during the season 70
or 80 files come down each week. While most of these represent people
who are visiting for the winter, he felt that increasing numbers were
staying here as permanent residents*
He went on to say that most of those who were receiving social
security payments would have to have other resources, as the top
monthly payment at that time was $68.00 per month, with an average pay¬
ment as already mentioned, of only $43.50. He explained that while
there was then no restriction in the plan on the income of recipients
through pensions, annuities, or other investments, these people could
not earn more than $50.00 per month in current employment.
Only nine members of the sample listed state old age assistance
as a source of income, while two others mentioned county welfare pay¬
ments. Although this is a small proportional part of the sample family
groups, it was believed that these sources deserved further study, as
the persons depending upon them represented the segment with the least

96
financial security. Therefore, officials at both the local and state
and county welfare offices were interviewed.
According to its director the main function of the Florida
District Welfare Office, located in 'West Palm Beach, in dealing with
the old age group, is to provide financial assistance to these people
to enable them to continue an independent pattern of living.
In May, 1951, there were 1,643 recipients of old age assistance
in Palm Beach County. No breakdowns by cities or by race are available.
The maximum payment was $50.00 per month, and the average payment was
$37.50. During this month 23 new applicants were approved in the
county, and 41 denied. At the same time slightly more than 23 cases
were closed. The welfare official believed that there has been a
definite net gain in the number of recipients over the past ten years.
This director explained that there are not many specific re¬
strictions on eligibility for assistance or amount of payment. At the
time of this interview a recipient could have up to $500 in resources
plus a home worth $5,000. An individual case approach is used, and a
budget is prepared for each recipient, so that payment may be made
according to needs. A person is not eligible for benefits unless he
has been a resident of the state for at least 5 years, one of which
must have been the year immediately preceding the application, and the
other four within the past nine years.
The main functions of the County Welfare Department, as related
to older people, is in giving direct relief to those not yet eligible
for state welfare benefits, as well as medical care for all those unable

97
to afford private facilities. A case worker for the department, from
whom this information was obtained, went on to say that small relief
payments are given for a limited time to those persons showing definite
need, who had been a resident of the city for at least a year.
The case worker stated that many recent migrants try to secure
county benefits. She said that every week between 25 and 30 old people
come in to make inquiries about eligibility for assistance. She has
found that many come down from the north, and after investing in a small
home have nothing left on which to live. Others come down with very
little to start with, she added, usually because such a move is demanded
by their health.
The obvious way to solve a financial problem faced after retire¬
ment is to go back to work. It has been seen, however, that this
usually is not feasible, as most people do not retire in the first place
until forced to do so. Some persons, however, may be able to get part-
time jobs of a light nature, often different from their main lifetime
occupation. Thus, 22 of the 140 heads of sample households, or about
one in six, did some work during the year previous to the survey. Of
these 17 were men and five were women. Estimates by these people of the
amount of time which they worked ranged from twenty part-time days, up
to 300 full time days. Most, however, worked less than a month or two
during the year, and, as Table 19 shows, for only 13 of the group
listed employment as a source of income at the time of the survey.
Members of this segment of the sample group were asked why they
were working after retirement. Sixteen of the 22 stated that they

98
needed the money. The other six, however, apparently worked more be¬
cause they like to be active than to supplement their income.
As it was felt that the number of retired persons desiring work
would probably be greater than the number able to obtain it, each member
of the short sample was asked whether or not the retired head of his
household would like to work if he could find a suitable job. The
answers to this query are tabulated in Table 21. It is seen that while
15 per cent of the retired heads are already working, another 33 per
cent would like to do so. About the same proportion said yes for both
sexes, though the percentage of the females who would not like to work
is greater, due to the smaller number of this group who were already
working.
An analysis of the reasons given by the respondents for this
reply indicated that actually there were many more than one-third of
the retired heads who would like to work. Almost half of the persons
saying Mno" gave as a reason that they could not do so because of poor
health, or the infirmities of old age. This further substantiates the
analysis in the chapter on the retirement process that most of the
sample wage earners retired before they desired to stop working.
The majority of the persons desiring to work indicated that they
wished to do so because they needed the money, although a significant
number wanted to return to regular employment because they disliked the
inactivity of retirement. A few mentioned that they would like to work
to help the country, as a patriotic duty.
Information on the general employment situation for older

99
TABLE 21
DESIRE TO WORK, RETIRED HOUSEHOLD HEADS, BY SEX,
WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Desire to Work
Total
Male
Fema1e
Number
Per¬
centage
Number
Per¬
centage
Number
Per-
centag<
Yes
47
33.6
30
34.5
17
30.4
No
78
55.7
43
51.1
35
62.5
Already Working
13
9.3
9
10.3
4
7.1
Don11 Know
1
0.7
1
1.2
-
-
Not Ascertained
1
0.7
1
1.2
-
-
TOTAL
140
100.0
84
100.0
56
100.0

100
workers in West Palm Beach was obtained from the manager of the local
office of the Florida State Employment Service*
This man stated that the principal function of his office is
to endeavor to place people in jobs. At the time of the interview there
were 2300 job applicants in the active files, which included only those
applying or renewing their application within the previous two months*
Of this group he estimated that about 25 per cent were over 50 years
of age and about five per cent over 60.
The official has found that those from 50 to 60 years old
usually are interested in working in the trades and occupations to which
they have devoted their life* For the most part they want to work
full time. Placing these men in their previous occupations, he ex¬
plained, is not always easy to do, especially for migrants from the
north who were trained in industrial pursuits.
Most of the job applicants over 60 are retired, he stated, and
want to work part time to supplement their incomes. Members of this
group are usually interested in taking jobs as watchmen, housekeepers,
or similar occupations not requiring special skills. Unfortunately,
these individuals are extremely difficult to place. One reason for
this is that often they are not physically able to do a good job. They
can not stand up long enough, for instance. Another reason is that
many of these persons are set in their ways, being inclined to tell the
boss what to do.
The State Employment Service manager has found that potential
employers do not give much resistance to hiring a man simply because of

ICI
age, If he can do the job* He cited one store whose manager prefers
to have older sales ladies, as they are more settled.
This official felt that the basic problem in placing persons
in the older age group is that there are simply not enough suitable
job opportunities in the area. He thought that the textile industry
might be a means for providing a few jobs there for elderly people.
One such plant was to be opened shortly after the survey period of the
present study, but he stated that there was no indication that others
would foI low.
Indirect data have been presented in this chapter which shows
that most of the retired persons living in West Palm Beach are of
modest means, with few enjoying great wealth. While not many members
of the sample appeared to be suffering from adject poverty, replies
to an attitude question in the schedule indicated that at least one
member of one family group out of four feels that he is faced with a
serious economic problem.
About two out of five retired heads of households in the city
have at least one person financially dependent upon them. Approximately
two-thirds of the persons classified as dependents by this study are
wives of the retired household heads, while most of the others are
close relatives living in West Palm Beach.
The retired heads of households have an average of two sources
of income. Approximately one-half of them receive some type of pension,
while a significant proportion depend to some extent upon real estate
rentals, savings, or assistance from relatives. Excerpts from

102
interviews with officials of the local social security office and state
and county welfare offices have been presented to help show the impor¬
tance of these sources of income to the retired persons of the city*
Only about 10 per cent of the retired heads of households in
the city have any part-time employment, although most of them would like
to work if they could find suitable jobs. Economic need is evidently
the most important incentive for these persons, though a significant
number want to work principally in order to remain active. An inter¬
view with the local manager ot the Florida State Employment Service
confirmed the inference from the survey data, that there is little work
available in the city for those of their training and age.

CHAPTER IX
HEALTH STATUS
While health is something that most people take for granted,
it is obvious that the possession of physical problems can influence
almost every part of an individual's life. With the advance of years,
the incidence of illness and disability increases, so that the aged
as a group may be expected to be greatly affected by health considera¬
tions. The influence of health upon several characteristics of the
West Palm Beach sample has already been demonstrated in this report.
Physical ailments, or the infirmities of old age, were shown to be a
major factor in the enforced retirement of many of the heads of house¬
holds. Also, several respondents who came to the city after their
working years mentioned health as an important reason for making this
move. To understand better the retired population of West Palm
Beach, it is, then, highly desirable to learn something of its general
health standing.
As he was engaged in making the interviews, the writer was
impressed by the extreme variations in health status of the persons
questioned. One case, at one of the extremes of the group in this
respect, was a 37 year old man, who worked as a commercial air-line
pilot before retiring in 1550. He appeared to be in the peak of health
in every way. At the other extreme was an old lady, suffering from
arthritis, who was unable to do anything without assistance from
others. This variation in health status should be kept in mind,
103

104
although the nature of the study makes it necessary to group cases in
the analysis*
A general question was included in the schedule to try to get
at health status through the individual's own attitude. Respondents
were asked if they considered their health very poor, poor, fair, good,
or excellent. The answers given are tabulated in Table 22.
According to these replies, most of the members of the short
sample seemed to feel that they were in rather good health. Fifty-
eight out of the 140 persons in this group said that their health was
excellent or good; while 38 per cent regarded it as being fair. Only
one person in six considered his physical condition to be poor or very
poor. Differences by sex were not extreme; it is seen, however, that
the women seem to have rated themselves slightly lower than men, with
this sex showing a larger proportion than the males only in the "poor”
category.
A wide variety of physical ailments was reported by the members
of the short sample. In addition to the thirteen specific physical
problems, each of which was mentioned by at least two persons, Table 23
shows that one-fourth of the total of 191 ailments listed by the group
fell in the "other" category. These thirty-five physical problems in¬
cluded a wide variety of diseases, such as polio, sciatica, and
neuritis, as well as a number of ill-defined symptoms, as "dizzy spells,"
body aches," and "chest trouble."
The most commonly reported ailment for both sexes was arthritis.
In Table 23, twenty-seven people are tabulated under this disease, who

105
TABLE 22
ATTITUDES OF PERSONS IN THE SHORT SAMPLE TOWARDS THEIR HEALTH,
BY SEX, WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Attitudes
Total
Male
Fema1e
Number
Per¬
centage
Number
Per¬
centage
Number
Per¬
centage
Excel lent
24
17.1
12
17.6
12
16.7
Good
33
23.5
13
26.5
15
20.8
Fai r
48
34.2
24
35.4
24
33.3
Poor
18
12.9
6
8.9
12
16.8
Very Poor
6
4.3
4
5.9
2
2.8
Don't Know
5
3.6
2
2.9
3
4.2
Not Ascertained
6
4.4
2
2.9
4
5.6
TOTAL
140
100.0
58
100*0
72
100.0

106
TABLE 23
TYPES OF PHYSICAL AI LA\ENTS REPORTED BY PERSONS IN THE SHORT SAMPLE,
BY SEX, WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Total
Male
Female
Type
Number
Per
Cent*
Number
Per
Cent*
Number
Per
Cent*
Arthritis
27
19
10
15
17
24
Heart Trouble
24
17
9
13
15
21
High or Low Blood
Pressure
19
14
1 1
16
8
11
Hard of Hearing
17
12
2
3
15
21
Poor Sight
12
9
5
7
7
10
Nervous Ai 1ments
11
8
8
12
3
4
Hardening of Arteries
II
8
5
7
6
8
Blindness and Eye
Disease
10
7
4
6
6
8
Stomach Trouble
9
6
2
3
7
10
Asthma
6
4
3
4
3
4
Crippled Arms, Hands,
Legs
5
4
5
7
as
-
Diabetes
3
2
2
3
1
1
Deaf or Nearly So
2
1
-
mm
2
2
Other
35
25
20
30
15
21
TOTAL
191
—
86
—
105
— ■»
♦Percentage of the members of the short sample reporting each ailment*

107
together made up 19 per cent of the short sample. This was followed
by heart trouble, claimed by 17 per cent, high or low blood pressure,
by 14 per cent, and hard of hearing, by 17 persons, or 12 per cent of
the 140 people in this group. All other physical problems listed in
the table were reported by less than 10 per cent of the short sample.
Differences by sex show that a higher proportion of the women,
than of men reported having arthritis, heart trouble, and especially,
hearing difficulties* A few more men that women, proportionally listed
high or low blood pressure, and nervous ailments. As the numbers are
so small, however, sampling variations could have easily accounted for
these sex differences.
The distribution of the 191 physical ailments reported among
members of the short sample, is given in Table 24. Forty of the 140
persons, or almost one in three stated that they had no ailments. Of
the 100 who listed physical problems 44 persons claimed one, 32 claimed
two and 24 stated that they had three or more. Proportionally, a few
more women than men reported one or more difficulty. In interpreting
these data, it should be kept in mind that several of the physical
problems recorded may have been only slightly disabling. Thus the
health status of the sample group could actually be somewhat better
than indicated by the tabulation.
A question was included which tried to determine the amount of
disabling illness suffered by members of the sample. Respondents were
asked if they had been too sick to leave their beds at any time between
January I, 1951 and the time of the interview, a period of approximately

108
TABLE 24
NUMBER OF PHYSICAL AILMENTS REPORTED BY PERSONS IN THE SHORT
SAMPLE, BY SEX, WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Number
Total
Male
Fema 1 e
Number
Per
Cent
Number
Per
Cent
N umber
Per
Cent
None
40
28.5
21
30.9
19
26.4
One
44
31.5
20
29.4
25
33.3
Two
32
22.8
14
20.5
18
25.0
Three or More
24
17.2
13
19.2
II
15.3
TOTAL
140
100.0
68
100.0
72
100.0

109
six months. The results show that a surprisingly small proportion of
the short sample, about 16 per cent, were sick in bed during that
period. This group of 22 persons included 14 who had been in bed for
a few days, five who had been in bed from two to four weeks, and three
for a longer period. In this as in other measures, the women ranked
somewhat below the men, with 78 per cent of them reporting no days sick
in bed as compared to 88 per cent of the men.
Another important indication of health status is the extent to
which individuals seek professional medical care. Almost 50 per cent
of the short sample visited the doctor at least once within the six-
months* period previous to being interviewed. Forty-one of these indi¬
viduals, (29 per cent) made from one to four visits, ten persons (seven
per cent) made from five to nine visits, while fourteen (ten per cent)
made ten or more visits to a physician. The sex difference is again
in favor of the men, with 43 per cent of the women in the sample who
reported no trips to a doctor, as compared to 60 per cent of the male
group.
A much smaller number of the short sample group required visits
by a doctor in their own homes. Thus, only 21 of the 140 members of
this group, or 15 per cent, were visited by a physician, of whom seven¬
teen had one to four visits and four persons five or more. There was
little difference by sex.
Only five members of the sample, three women and two men, re¬
ported that they had been hospitalized during the six months period
previous to their interview. Two of these stated that they remained

in a hospital for more than 10 days.
Caution should be exercised in interpreting the information on
hospitalization and medical care. Many of the respondents could easily
have forgotten events occurring in the course of a six months' period,
so that the group was probably more dependent upon professional medical
facilities than the survey indicated.
In addition, receiving medical care and needing it are two
different things. The chapter on Economic Status showed that most of
the sample group was of moderate means, and many were just getting by,
A number of these persons could have found themselves, when in need
of professional care, too rich to be eligible for public assistance,
and too poor to afford private care,
A number of medical facilities are available to those persons
living in the West Palm Beach area. A 1949 release by the local Chamber
of Commerce stated that there were three general hospitals in the city.
Of these, the Good Samaritan Hospital at that time contained 135 beds,
St. Mary's Hospital 180 beds, and Pine Ridge, a Negro Hospital, 50 beds.
Another facility available for the retired people in the city
is the Visiting Nurses Association, A representative of this organi¬
zation explained that it offers a general public health service for
the area. It is run on a non-profit basis, as only 40 per cent of its
budget is covered by fees from patients. The remainder of the expenses
comes from individual contributions and a Community Chest allotment.
At the time of the survey eight nurses were employed by the Asso¬
ciation. These trained persons visit in the homes of those who are sick,

Ill
remaining as long as necessary. The representative who was interviewed
explained that calls usually last from 25 minutes to two hours, and the
majority of the patients are seen three times a week. Visits are con¬
tinued as long as the patient's condition warrants them, with some
cases being carried for three or four years*
Older persons make up a significant part of the case load of
this organization. At the time of the interview the total load was
528 persons. Of these 400 were infant and maternity cases. Out of
the remaining 128, 75 were patients over 60, all suffering from chronic
diseases.
The representative who was interviewed also pointed out that
older persons receiving Old Age Assistance were given free nursing
service by this organization.
The principal agency in the community giving free medical aid
to those in financial straits is the County Welfare Department. The
staff of this organization, at the time of the survey, consisted of
one doctor, three social workers, one secretary and one nurse. A
clinic has been established near the center of town, while the county
home and hospital are also a part of the system.
The social worker who was interviewed for this study stated
that at that time there were 54 persons in the white home and hospital,
and 26 persons in the Negro home and hospital. Most of those in the
county homes were in the older age group, while needy persons of all
ages could go to the hospital if necessary. The present hospital has
been built since World War II, and contains about 100 beds, according

112
to this person.
She went on to explain that Palm Beach County through the
Welfare Department, has developed an excellent program for the care
of indigent older people no longer able to live independently. In
addition to the county home, the Welfare Department cooperates with
privately-owned nursing homes. There were twelve of these homes in
Palm Beach County, at the time of the survey, four of which were for
Negroes. Several of them had as many as a dozen patients.
According to this program, the nursing homes are visited and
approved once a week by the county physician. They have either a
registered or a practical nurse in attendance at all times. The county
physician, in addition, ministers to the old people in the homes.
At the time of the survey these homes would take care of a
patient for $60 a month. Persons obtaining Old Age Assistance who were
eligible for these facilities received $50 per month, and the county
added $10 to help defray the total expense. The case worker mentioned
that some persons who come into the state and have the resident require¬
ments for county but not state aid, often stay in the county lióme until
they become eligible for Old Age Assistance, at which time they move
into a nursing home. She added that most older people prefer the nurs¬
ing homes to the county home.
This Case Worker has found that the most difficult part of the
adjustment for those who must go to the county home or a nursing home
is usually not as much being forced to take charity as having to leave
their home, no matter how humble, and move to a strange place.

113
The information presented in this chapter has shown that the
health status of most of the retired persons living in West Palm Beach
is not unfavorable. The replies to an attitude question disclosed that
only about one person in six thought that his health was poor or very
poor, while almost one in three stated that he had no physical ailments.
Evidently, few of the retired persons in the city have disabling ill¬
nesses of the type that would force them to remain in bed for any time,
while less than one-half of these people visit a doctor regularly.
The survey indicates that arthritis is the most common ailment
of this group, with about one retired person in five suffering from the
disease. Other ailments relatively common to them are heart trouble,
high or low blood pressure, and hearing difficulties.
The work of the Visiting Nurses Association with the retired
people of the city has been discussed, as well as the health services
being offered underpriveledged persons of this group by the County Wel¬
fare Department. The program of this department in helping to provide
nursing home facilities for older persons living in the county has been
given special attention.

PART IV
ACTIVITIES

CHAPTER X
RECREATIONAL AND EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES
One of the biggest changes which comes to the life of an indi¬
vidual who retires is the immediate increase in the amount of his
available leisure time. Most students of old age problems agree that
how this time is used will have a great deal to do with whether or not
retirement is a satisfying experience. Wholesome recreation, pre¬
ferably of a creative nature, or some sort of learning activity, may
do much to compensate for the satisfaction formerly obtained from
employment.
Women, who enter retirement status though not employed before¬
hand, do not usually face this problem of using increased free time.
Their leisure-use patterns, however, may change with those of their
husband's, and are at any rate important in contributing to contented
old age.
Most of the members of the West Palm Beach sample reported hav¬
ing considerable leisure time. Seven out of ten persons in this group
indicated that they had at least one-half of each day free to do as they
pleased. Another 10 per cent either did not know or would not answer
the question, while 20 per cent felt their household responsibilities
so keenly, or had other activities which caused them to report that
they had only a few hours, or almost no time free during each day. As
would be expected, a comparison by sex shows that the retired men as a
group had more leisure time than did the women. Thus 77 per cent of

115
the males reported at least one-half day's free time each day, as com¬
pared to 64 per cent of the females. At the other end of the scale,
one-fourth of the women stated that they had only a small amount of
leisure time available, while only 13 per cent of the men fell into
this category.
The respondents, or members of the short sample, were asked to
recount with the help of a check list, the activities in which they
were usually engaged, and to indicate the three which took up most of
their time. Table 25 is a compilation of the responses to the latter
part of this question, by rank. Working in and around the house seems
to have been an important activity for the largest number of these
people, as it was reported by 71, or about 51 per cent of the group.
The traditional function of woman as the housekeeper is revealed by the
fact that more women than men listed this activity. Only 26, or 38
per cent of the males, figured in this category, as compared with 45,
or 62 per cent of the females. Working in the yard or garden, another
activity connected with the home, was also important, ranking fourth
in frequency of mention. Forty-one per cent of the short sample group
listed this activity, with males here leading the females.
While some retired persons may consider work in the house, yard,
or garden to be purely a necessity these jobs were for many an important
source of recreation. A number of persons interviewed took great pride
in their efforts at landscaping, or their abilities as home carpenters
or housekeepers. The importance of these activities for the total
sample was no doubt accentuated by the fact that most of the dwelling

116
TABLE 25
THE THREE MOST IMPORTANT ACTIVITIES OF PERSONS IN THE SHORT
SAMPLE, BY SEX, WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Total
Mai e
Fema1e
Activities
Number
Per
Cent*
Number
Per
Cent*
Number
Per
Cent*
Work in and Around
the House
71
50.7
26
38.2
45
62.6
Read
66
47.1
35
51.4
31
43.1
Listen to the Radio
69
42.1
31
45.5
28
38.9
Work in the Yard or
Garden
58
41.4
31
45.5
27
37.5
Just Sit and Think
36
25.7
19
27.9
17
28.6
Sew, Crochet, or Knit
18
12.8
-
—-
18
25.0
Visit or Entertain
Friends
16
11.4
8
11.8
8
11.1
Work on Some Hobby
15
10.7
10
14.8
5
6.9
Participate in Community
or Church Work
1 1
7.8
4
5.9
7
9.7
Fish
7
7
0
Take Pleasure Rides
7
5
2
Attend Movies
5
3
2
Attend Clubs, Lodges,
or Other Meetings
4
2
2
Farm Work
4
3
!
Write Letters
4
1
3
Care for Children
3
0
3
Shuff1eboard
3
3
0
Take Walks
3
2
1
Attend Theatres,
Lectures or Concerts
2
2
0
Shop
2
1
1
Swim
2
2
0
Other
7
0
7
TOTAL
415
204
216
♦Percentage of members of the short sample reporting each activity*

117
units in the sample were individual houses, and that a high proportion
of the retired families living independently owned their own homes*
Most of the other pastimes reported as among the three most
important by a significant number of the short sample were of a passive,
sedentary nature* Reading rated second in frequency of mention, fol¬
lowed by listening to the radio as one of their three most important
activities* Both of these were mentioned by more men than women*
A number of persons indicated that just sitting and thinking
was one of their three most important activities. Thirty-six or 25.7
per cent of the members of the sample were found in this category.
Actually this is an inactivity rather than an activity, and strongly
indicates that at least one-fourth of the group has been unable to
make a satisfactory adjustment to the problem of leisure-time use after
retirement*
Other passive activities which consume a significant amount of
the time of some of the members of the group include sewing, crocheting,
knitting, taking pleasure rides, attending movies, writing letters, and
baby-sitting.
The data in the table under examination show that active parti¬
cipation in sports was not an important activity for many of the short
sample group. Fishing was mentioned by seven persons out of the 140,
while shuffleboard was mentioned by three and swimming by two other
members of the sample. Of course, it is possible that some individuals
could have been actively engaged in a variety of sports, or similar pur¬
suits and thus have not listed any type among their three most important

118
activities* To check this, a separate tabulation was made of those
reporting any such activity among all their leisure time uses* It was
found that only twenty men and one woman could be placed in this group.
That only 21 persons, making 15 per cent of the short sample, engaged
at all in any sport or other physically active pursuit carried on out¬
side the home, appears to be very significant.
Informal social participation was an important activity for a
few members of the sample group. Thus, in Table 25 it is seen that 16
persons or II per cent of the total gave visiting and entertaining
friends as one of their three most important uses of leisure time. An¬
other 12 persons, comprising 8.5 per cent of the sample listed playing
cards and other table games in the same way.
A separate tabulation revealed that 44 persons mentioned table
games, and 78 persons visiting as one out of all their leisure activi¬
ties. While this shows that a fairly large proportion of the total
group engage in these pastimes, the significant number failing to do
so confirmed empirically the observations of the writer that many re¬
tired persons maintained few friendships in the city and were rather
lonely. This seemed to be particularly noticeable among those coming
to West Palm Beach after retirement, most all of whom were from urban
backgrounds, and many of whom lived with younger relatives.
More formal social participation was among the three most im¬
portant activities of 15 persons, according to Table 25* This number
includes II who mentioned participating in community or church work,
and four listing the attendance of clubs, lodges and other meetings as

119
taking up a significant part of their available leisure time. Parti¬
cipation in these types of organizations by the retired group is exa¬
mined more closely in the two following chapters.
Possession of a hobby is another index of the amount and type
of recreation in which retired persons are engaged* A separate question
in the schedule indicated that 62, or 31 per cent of the total sample
had some type of hobby. This group was about equally divided by sex,
as it contained 27 (32 per cent) of the men and 35 (30 per cent) of the
women in the sample.
The different hobbies which were reported are listed in Table
26. A variety of activities are revealed, with only eight of the 24
having been given by more than one person. These were gardening, fish¬
ing, sewing, crocheting, knitting, shelIcraft, rug making, and writing.
It will be noticed, however, that the first four of these eight were
claimed by more than one-half of the 60 persons reporting hobbies.
It was shown in Table 25 that almost one-half of the short
sample listed reading as one of their three most important activities.
Reading could be expected to be an important pastime of this group*
For one thing, it does not require undue exertion. For another, its
enjoyment is not limited by most physical infirmities* In fact, all
of the persons in the sample who were blind, or nearly blind, spend
time "reading" with the aid of special phonograph records, or by listen¬
ing to companions*
Two other questions were included in the schedule to learn more
about the reading habits of the retired group. Information on the

120
TABLE 26
HOBBIES REPORTED BY MEMBERS OF THE TOTAL SAMPLE,
BY SEX, WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Hobby
Total
Male
Female
Gardening
1 1
7
4
Fishing
8
6
2
Sewing
7
1
6
Crocheting
6
0
6
Knitting
4
0
4
Shellera ft
4
1
3
Rug Making
2
0
2
Writing
2
1
1
Bee Keeping
1
1
0
Bowling
1
1
0
Keeping Cage Birds
1
0
1
Clipping from Newspapers
1
0
1
Crossword Puzzles
1
1
0
Die Making
1
1
0
Feeding Birds and Squirrels
1
0
1
Furniture Making
1
1
0
Machine Shop Work
1
1
0
Painting
1
1
0
Playing a Musical Instrument
1
1
0
Stamp Collecting
1
1
0
Swimming
1
0
1
Textile Painting
1
0
1
Water Coloring
1
0
1
Wood Working
1
1
0
Hobby Not Ascertained
2
1
1
TOTAL
60
27
35

121
newspaper reading practices of the sample is tabulated according to
households in Table 27* Almost nine out of every ten of the 134 house¬
holds in which members of the total sample lived were receiving news¬
papers regularly at the time of the survey. Sixty per cent of these
households obtained only local papers. Sixteen, or about 12 per cent
of them, received a local newspaper as well as one from another Florida
city. Members of seventeen households, comprising thirteen per cent of
the total in the sample, maintained ties with their previous homes by
subscribing to out-of-state papers, as well as a local one. Three
households received only an out-of-town Florida paper.
The amount of time which members of the short sample spent in
reading is shown in Table 28. This tabulation brings out more clearly
that reading is a prominent pastime for retired persons. Only six per¬
sons in the sample reported that they never read, while 115 or 82 per
cent read on an average of at least an hour a day. There appears to
be no significant difference in reading habits of the sexes.
A librarian of the West Palm Beach Memorial library was inter¬
viewed to find out how this public institution was functioning for the
retired group. She stated that the library had 19,000 volumes at that
time and that the selection of books was fairly well-rounded. The
library also subscribed to eleven newspapers and about fifty magazines.
She went on to say that the Iibrary was somewhat below standard, with
the main problem centered around providing enough space to increase the
number of books and improve the general facilities.
The librarian estimated that about 25 per cent of the persons

122
TABLE 27
NEWSPAPER READING PRACTICES, SAMPLE HOUSEHOLDS,
WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Number
Per Cent
Total Households Receiving Newspapers
119
88,8
Local Papers Only
83
Local and Other Florida
16
Local and Out of State
17
Other Florida Only
3
Total Households Not Receiving Newspapers
13
9.7
Not Ascertained
2
1.5
TOTAL HOUSEHOLDS
134
100.0

123
TABLE 28
TIME SPENT READING, BY PERSONS IN THE SHORT SAMPLE, BY SEX,
WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Total
Male
Fema1e
Time Spent Reading
Number
Per
Cent
Number
Per
Cent
Number
Per
Cent
Never
6
4.3
2
2.9
4
5.6
A Few Minutes
17
12.1
10
14.7
7
9.6
About an Hour
60
42.9
24
35.2
36
50.0
Two to Four Hours
50
35.7
28
41.2
22
30.6
All Day
5
3.6
2
3.0
3
4.2
Don't Know
2
1.4
2
3.0
0
—
TOTAL
140
100.0
68
100.0
72
100.0

124
served by the library are in the older age group. She did not think
that the type of reading material selected by these persons is sig¬
nificantly different from that selected by the younger adult group.
She had observed, however, that the older group reads more on an
average than do younger adults. She knew of about 25 elderly people
who spend several hours in the library at least two or three days.
This informant mentioned that a number of older persons seem
to have a sort of schedule worked out. Usually, about 4:30 most of
this group leaves the library, presumably to eat at a downtown restau¬
rant. She feels that many of the older "regular customers" live in
furnished rooms near the center of town, which possibly are somewhat
drab, so that the Iibrary is for them a nice place to relax.
During the winter season before this survey was made, the
library tried to start an "over 65" club, which was to be primarily a
discussion group. The librarian stated that this venture was not too
successful, probably because it was poorly promoted. She thought too
that the club may not have been well received because many older people
would rather hear a speaker than participate in a direct discussion.
In closing, the person being interviewed said that she soon
hoped to be able to develop a program to give library service to those
in the nursing homes in the city.
Another municipal organization offering recreational services
for the retired group is the West Palm Beach Recreation Department. In
an interview with an official of this department it was revealed that
most of the leisure activities sponsored by the city, which would be of

125
interest to the older group, are carried on in four parks. These are
called Flagler, Currie, Phipps, and Howardparks, and each is located in
a different part of West Palm Beach.
Shuffleboard is the activity in which older persons engage that
receives the most emphasis. Facilities for the game are available at
all four of the parks. The shuffleboard courts are maintained directly
through the Recreation Department, though each park has an organized
Shuffleboard Club for the participants. Members of these organizations
pay an annual fee to the department of about four dollars. There
recently has been an approximate yearly average of 750 persons in the
Flagler Shuffleboard Club, 550 in the Currie Club, 300 in the Howard
Club, and 200 in the Phipps Club.
The recreation official mentioned that during the previous year
one of these clubs completely ran its own affairs, including all finan¬
cial arrangements. This, however, did not work out too satisfactorily.
It appeared that some of the club members were rather clannish, and
that new members were not always welcome* Understandably, such a tend¬
ency was not considered to be compatible with the overall purposes of
the recreation department.
In describing the activities of the Shuffleboard Clubs, the
recreation official explained that in addition to regular play, the
organizations hold intei—park and intei—city tournaments throughout the
year, and give a party at the end of each winter season, at which time
a number of trophies are awarded*
Besides shuffleboard, there is a lawn bowling club at Howard

126
Park, as well as facilities for playing Skish (fly casting). Horse¬
shoes are played at several parks* also.
There used to be weekly dances at Flagler Park for the older
group, but at the time of the survey this service had been discontinued
temporarily due to insufficient funds. For those preferring less
strenuous activities, there are card sheds at Flagler and Currie parks,
where cards and other table games such as chess and checkers can be
played.
The official continued, saying that there are in addition club
houses at the four parks with hostesses in charge. The Recreation De¬
partment sanctions clubs at each place, which sponsor card parties and
other social functions. Members of these clubs pay an annual social
fee of one dollar, he said. Also, other organizations meet at these
club houses, such as a magicians club, the Retired Mail Carriers Club,
and Neighborhood Civic clubs.
There is a band shell at Flagler Park, which is used in many
ways. A band concert is given most every Sunday, the official said,
and there is a talent show each Friday night, at which children perform.
Most of the spectators at these performances are adults.
The benches at the parks and playgrounds, furnished by the Re¬
creation Department, should not be overlooked. They are used a great
deal by people in the older age group.
This recreation official feels that the facilities furnished
the older people in the city are sufficient for the demand. Most of
the older people in the community seem satisfied with what is

127
available, he explained. He does think, however, that there is a need
for three community centers in the city, one in the middle of town and
the others in the north and south districts. These centers could cater
to all age groups, but with regulated hours, so that the adults and
children would use the facilities at different times. The centers
should have places for dancing and room for more than one small gather¬
ing, he concluded.
It has been suggested that the aged may be in need of a pro¬
gram of education to bring them abreast of the changes and newly ac¬
quired knowledge in our society and help them better to understand the
particular problems of older people.* In studying the retiredpeopIe
of West Palm Beach, an effort was made to ascertain the demand by this
group for some sort of formal educational program, as well as to assess
the present available facilities in the area.
Respondents, included in the short sample, were asked whether
or not they would like to study a subject or learn a new skill if a
class were made available. Thirty-five, or one-fourth of the 140 per¬
sons in this group answered "yes." This question was not answered by
three persons, one other person did not know, and the remaining 101
definitely said "no." There was a slight difference by sex, with 27
per cent of the males answering in the affirmative, as compared to 22
per cent of the females. The results of this question indicates that
*0tto Pollak, SociaI Ad iustment in 01d Age. New York: Social
Science Research Council, 1948, p. 157.

128
there is little interest among the retired group in any educational
activities. Moreover, many of those in the sample expressing a desire
to study were probably not sufficiently interested to participate
actually in such a program.
To obtain information on the present educational facilities
available to the retired group in West Palm Beach, two county school
officials were interviewed*
One of these persons, who was connected with the county voca¬
tional school, stated that there has been no demand to his knowledge
from retired people to take courses in the vocational school, either
to prepare themselves for jobs or for recreational purposes. He added
that if there were a sufficient number of requests from any source for
courses not already offered, that the school would endeavor to give
them.
The other man who was interviewed worked in the Adult Educa¬
tion program of the Palm Beach County school system. He stated that
there has been considerable demand for courses in his program by people
in the older age group. Most of them seem to want classical subjects
or fine arts, though some requests for Spanish courses, English, or
English literature courses are received. The school system has tried
to meet their needs, he said, but interests are diverse, and often there
has not been enough demand for any one subject to warrant offering a
course in that field*
The recreational and educational activities of the members of
the West Palm Beach retired group have been considered in this chapter*

129
Survey results indicate that most of these people have at least one-
half of each day to use as they please* Working in and around the
house and in the garden and yard are significant activities for about
50 per cent of them. Except for these activities, most of the retired
people evidently prefer passive, sedentary pastimes, with less than one-
fourth engaging in sports, or other strenuous activities away from home.
Almost one-third of the group have some kind of hobby.
Reading is an important pastime for most of the retired per¬
sons, with about three-fourths of them reading at least an hour a day.
Almost all of the households in which these persons live receive news¬
papers. A city librarian estimated that about one-fourth of the regu¬
lar Iibrary users are in the older age groups, and believed that these
persons read more on an average than do younger adults.
The City Recreation Department furnishes a number of facilities
of interest to members of the older age group. Shuffleboard clubs are
sponsored by this agency at all four city parks. In addition lawn
bowling and horseshoes are offered at several parks, while clubhouses
are available at all four of them for card playing and similar pastimes.
The recreation official who was interviewed in the course of the survey
feels that these facilities are sufficient for the present demand.
The retired people living in West Palm Beach have indicated
some interest in adult education. One-fourth of those in the sample
stated that they would like to study a subject or learn a new skill if
a class were made available. Interviews with county school officials
revealed that there are few courses available for this group, the reason

130
being that interests are diverse, and there usually have been an
insufficient demand for any one subject.

CHAPTER XI
PARTICIPATION IN ORGANIZATIONS
Much social participation, particularly in modern urban
society, takes place through the medium of formal organizations*
These originate and develop with certain functions and purposes, tra¬
ditions, specific and general restrictions on membership, as well as
current and established orders of procedures* Organizations may be
sources of satisfaction for their members, as these persons strive to
accomplish with others goals vtfilch are considered desirable. They also
tend to 111 abe I" those who belong, helping to give them their position
in society. Then too, organizations often furnish a means of recrea¬
tion for their members. Many such formal groups sponsor specific re¬
creational and social activities, while most give the members something
to occupy their time, as well as promoting friendship among those in
the group.
Exactly one-half of the persons in the total West Palm Beach
sample indicated that they were members of at least one organization.
Table 29 shows that of these persons, 52, making up about one-fourth
of the total sample, belonged to one formal group, while 30, or 15 per
cent held membership in two. Only about nine per cent of the total
belonged to three or more organizations, as eleven persons listed
three, and eight reported membership in four. It is seen that there
was little difference by sex in the number of organizations to which
those of the sample belonged
131

132
TABLE 29
NUMBER OF ORGANIZATIONAL MEMBERSHIPS FOR PERSONS
IN THE TOTAL SAMPLE, BY SEX, 1951
Total
Mai e
Fema1e
Number of Memberships
Number
Per
Cent
Number
Per
Cent
Number
Per
Cent
None
101
50.0
44
52.4
57
48.3
One
52
25.7
22
26.2
30
25.3
Two
30
14.9
14
16.7
16
13.6
Three
1 1
5.4
1
1.2
10
8.5
Four
8
4.0
3
3.5
5
4.3

133
A total of 177 memberships in formal groups were reported for
the 202 individuals about whom information was obtained in the survey,
making an average of 0*87 per person* Of these 177 memberships, 59,
or approximately one-third, were in secular organizations, while 79,
or 45 per cent were divided among 20 churches in the city, and 39, mak¬
ing 22 per cent of the 177 were in different church groups* The re¬
mainder of this chapter is concerned with the secular organizations,
while churches and church groups are considered in the chapter follow¬
ing on religious activities*
While one-half of the persons in the total sample belonged to
some type of organization, only 23 per cent reported that they were
members of secular groups* Almost all of this latter segment, that is,
36 out of 45 individuals, belonged to only one non-church club* Of the
remaining nine persons, five belonged to two, three persons belonged to
three, and one person to four such organizations. A slightly higher
proportion of men than women in the sample were members of secular
groups* Twenty-six per cent of the men reported membership in some
non-church club, as compared to 19 per cent of the women.
An index of the amount of participation of individuals in the
organizations to which they belong may be obtained by determining their
average attendance at the regular meetings*
A tabulation was made according to responses given in the sur¬
vey of retired people in west Palm Beach, which classified the 45 per¬
sons who were members of the secular clubs according to the average
number of meetings which they attended each month. Thus, it was found

134
that one-third, of 15 of the 45 persons belonging to secular organiza¬
tions attended one such meeting each month. Ten persons, or about 22
per cent of the non-church members attended two meetings on an average,
and nine persons reported attending from three to five. Eleven per¬
sons in this segment attended less than one meeting a month. In all,
the non-church club members in the sample attended an average of about
1.7 meetings of these organizations per month.
The 72 memberships reported by the persons in the sample are dis¬
tributed over 36 secular clubs. Twelve of these organizations, which
claim 27 of the memberships, are of a general nature. They include the
West Palm Beach Woman's Club, the Townsend Club, the Audubon Club, the
Inter-American Club, the Three Score Ten Club, the Danish Brotherhood,
the Swedish Club, the local Barber's Union and the local Carpenter's
Union.
Twenty-four memberships were reported for 12 other clubs, which
can be classified as lodges. These include various Masonic orders, as
well as the Woodmen of the World and the Knights of Phthias.
Four civic groups, four patriotic clubs, and four recreational
clubs round out the roster. The recreational clubs are the Palm Beach
Fishing Club, the All-States Tourist's Club, the Flagler Park Shuffle-
board Club, and a neighborhood card club.
The West Palm Beach Woman's Club is the secular organization
with the largest number of members from the total sample. Thus seven
persons in this group reported belonging to the organization. The
Eastern Star is next in rank, with four, followed by the Townsend Club

135
and the Shakespeare Club with three each. The remainder of the 36 non¬
church organizations were reported by one or two persons.
Two of the organizations to which some members of the sample
group belong function primarily for the older age or retired groups.
They are the Three Score Ten Club and the local Townsend Club. In the
course of the survey, several meetings of these groups were attended,
and interviews obtained from club officers. Both organizations
appeared to have obtained most of their members from the lower socio¬
economic and educational levels; while many persons belonging to one
also belonged to the other group.
The purpose of the Three Score Ten Club is, according to its
constitution, to "promote the acquaintance, sociability, health, com¬
fort, happiness, and usefulness of its members and to plan for their
enjoyment in practical, appropriate and wholesome ways, and to assist
in promoting laudable activities of the community." This group is not
affiliated with any national organization.
The membership of the club is limited to those over 69 in the
Constitution, although many of the persons active are under that age.
A club representative stated that there was an average of between 15
and 25 active members, with the number almost doubling during the
winter season. Fourteen persons, ten women and four men, were present
at the meeting attended by the writer. Meetings are held once a month,
in the afternoon, at a rented hall. Dues are $1.00 a year.
The program portion of the meetings includes group singing and
usually a speaker on a civic or religious topic, the club representative

136
stated. During the meeting at which the writer was present a very in¬
formal atmosphere prevailed. The monthly meeting is the main activity
of the group. It was stated, however, that needy members of the club
are sometimes given assistance while those who were sick are usually
visited or sent cards by the others in the group,
A local club representative stated that the Townsend Club is a
national organization, mainly concerned with the passage of some type
of universal pension legislation. Activities of the local club center
mainly about the national objectives, he added. Programs are arranged
to keep people informed as to current events, and particularly national
politics. An effort is made to get members to write to their congress¬
men urging passage of the current Townsend Bill,
There is some sort of entertainment (often musical) and a
speaker at each meeting. Also, the club officer said that the members
sometimes have a chance to get up and say a few words during the meet¬
ings. If possible, there is a covered-dish supper once a month, and
picnics and other socials are held occasionally. Regular meetings
take place once a week on Monday nights, in a rented hall.
The representative went on to say that there were at that time
300 members of the local Townsend Club. He added that 160 had been
taken in within the six or eight weeks previous to the interview. Mem¬
bership, however, is obtained by solicitation, the dues being a dollar
a year, so that probably many members were simply making a contribution
to the organization. At the two meetings attended by the writer there
were 17 and 24 members present, though there would no doubt be more

137
during the winter. Atost of the active members are in the older age
group. All those at the meetings attended by the writer appeared to
be at least 50, while one woman, given special recognition at the meet¬
ing, was 92 years old.
The annual dues of one dollar all go to the national organiza¬
tion. Local affairs are financed through a free-will offering collected
at each meeting. The representative who was interviewed stated that
the club cannot afford to engage in benevolent activities, though
they try to get aid from an outside source for any member in distress.
Both of these organizations, while small, and appealing only
to a limited group, appeared to be sources of satisfaction for their
members, in promoting fellowship, and in giving them something to do.
The failure of these groups to attract more members, and the lack of
similar organizations in the community are difficult to explain.
Information contained in this chapter has shown that partici¬
pation in organizations is a significant activity for only about one-
half of the retired people living in West Palm Beach. Only one-fourth
of them, moreover, belong to one or more secular organizations, and
these people attend an average of about two such meetings per month.
Approximately one-third of the organizational memberships held
by retired people in the non-church clubs of the city are in secret
lodges, while another one-third are in organizations of a general,
social nature and most of the remainder are in civic, patriotic and
recreational clubs.
The functions of two clubs, whose members come mostly from the

138
retired group have been elaborated upon. The relatively low partici
pation of retired people in organizations, and the small number and
size of clubs appealing especially to the older and retired groups i
West Palm Beach is significant.

CHAPTER XI I
RELIGIOUS ACTIVITIES
At least one-half of the members of the West Palm Beach sample
participated to a significant extent in religious activities at the
time of the survey. Thus, 52 per cent of this group indicated that
they attended church services once a month or more. A more precise
tabulation of church attendance for this group is given in Table 30.
Here it is seen that over one-fourth of the 202 persons reported that
they never attended religious services, while 21 per cent attended less
than once a month, and 14 per cent once or twice a month. The largest
single segment, 57 persons, making 28 per cent of the total, reported
that they went once a week, with 17 persons (8 per cent) indicating
that they attended church services more often than that* An examina¬
tion of sex differences reveals that the women of the sample went to
church to a greater extent than did the men, as 58 per cent of the fe¬
males stated that they attended more than once a month, as compared to
44 per cent of the males.
Most of those in the sample who attended religious services
regularly were active members of a church. Seventy-nine persons, or
39 per cent of the total group reported belonged to some congregation
in the city.
While information in the previous chapter disclosed that a greater
proportion of men than women in the sample belonged to secular organiza¬
tions, this is not the case with regard to church membership. Thus, 49
139

140
TABLE 30
ATTENDANCE OF PERSONS IN THE TOTAL SAMPLE AT RELIGIOUS SERVICES,
BY SEX, WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Attendance
Tol
-al
Male
Fema1e
Number
Per
Cent
Number
Per
Cent
Number
Per
Cent
Never
54
26.7
25
29.8
29
24.6
Less Than Once a Month
43
21.3
22
26.2
21
17.3
Once or Twice a Month
29
14.4
II
13.0
18
15.2
Once a Week
57
28.2
20
23.8
37
31.4
Twice a Week
13
6.4
5
5.0
8
6.8
Oftener
4
2.0
0
—-
4
3.4
Don11 Know
2
1.0
1
1.2
1
0.8
TOTAL
202
100.0
84
100.0
118
100.0

141
per cent of the females in the total sample reported belonging to a
church in the city, as compared to 31 per cent of the men.
Table 31 lists the churches to which individuals of this group
belong. It is seen that the church reported by the largest number is
the First Methodist, claimed by eleven persons. This is followed by
the Congregational Church, with ten, the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church
with nine, and St. Ann's Catholic Church, with seven members who were
in the sample. The other sixteen churches were each reported by from
one to five persons of the group.
Most churches have subsidiary organizations, such as Sunday
Schools, Bible classes, and missionary societies. As these groups
often encourage informal social gatherings and sponsor some types of
recreational activities, it was considered important to check on the
extent to which members of the sample participated in them. Only 31,
or 15 per cent of the 202 persons in the total sample stated that they
were members of church auxiliaries. Twenty-five of these 31 individuals
belonged to one such organization, while four belonged to two, and two
persons belonged to three different ones. Again there is some
difference by sex, with 19 per cent of the women in the sample report¬
ing that they were members of at least one auxiliary compared to a
correspondíng percentage of eleven for the men,
A check on the attendance at church group meetings by the 31
members of such organizations in the sample showed that these people
averaged going to about two meetings per month. Fifteen of the 31
attended once a month, five attended two or three times a month and

142
TABLE 31
CHURCH MEMBERSHIP OF PERSONS IN THE TOTAL SAMPLE, BY SEX,
WEST PALM BEACH, 1951
Denomination and Church
Total
Ma 1 e
Female
BAPTIST
First Baptist Church
4
2
2
Northwood Baptist Church
3
0
3
Lake Avenue Baptist Church
1
0
1
CATHOLIC
St. Ann's Catholic Church
7
1
6
St. Juliana's Catholic Church
2
1
1
CHRISTIAN
White Temple Christian Church
4
2
2
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE
First Church of Christ, Scientist
2
1
1
CHURCH OF CHRIST
Church of Christ
1
0
1
CONGREGATIONAL
Congregational Church
10
3
7
EPISCOPAL
Holy Trinity Church
9
3
6
JEWISH
Tempie Beth El
3
1
3
Temple Israel
2
1
1
LUTHERAN
Lutheran First United Church
4
1
3
METHODIST
Calvary Methodist Church
2
1
1
First Methodist Church
1 1
5
6
Memorial Methodist Church
1
1
0
Northwood Methodist Church
5
1
4
PRESBYTERIAN
First Presbyterian Church
4
1
3
Memorial Presbyterian Church
2
1
1
SEVENTH DAY ADVENTIST
Seventh Day Adventist Church
2
0
2
TOTAL
79
26
53

143
nine persons attended such meetings four times or more.
There are at least 34 different churches in West Palm Beach,
representing almost every faith. To gain more insight into the rela¬
tionship of the retired population to the churches of the city, one
Catholic and three protestant clergymen were interviewed. A summary of
some of the opinions of these persons, and the programs of their churches,
is presented here.
Most of all, these men feel that older and retired persons need
from the church comfort and reassurance to carry them through what is
usually a lonely period, as well as encouragement in time of sickness.
One of the churchmen who was interviewed especially stressed the fact
that these people are lonely. He has found that many of the older per¬
sons have cut off relations with their relatives and old friends. He
said that recently he conducted a funeral for a person who had been in
the city for 25 years, that was attended by only six persons.
None of the pastors interviewed reported any special programs
in the church for their older people. These people do participate,
however, in certain church auxiliaries, such as the Sunday School, and
missionary circles, which are open to people of all ages. One of the
pastors reported that his church has special Sunday School classes for
persons over 60. Many older and retired persons in these churches are
aided through visitation programs. The clergymen interviewed or their
assistants try to visit the infirm, many of whom are older people. One
Sunday School has an extension program, by which literature is regularly
delivered to shut-ins

144
All four churches minister to the needy aged, as a part of
their regular welfare program. One of these institutions is sponsor¬
ing three older persons who are in nursing homes.
These clergymen do not believe that their churches contain a
much greater than proportional number of old people. One mentioned,
however, that a recent church census disclosed that a high percentage
of persons in his congregation, particularly women, lived alone, which
might indicate some concentration of persons in the old age group.
Three of these four pastors feel that older persons attend
their churches more regularly than do younger adults* Generally, this
was ascribed to three reasons; first, that the older persons are lean¬
ing on the church for comfort and reassurance; second, that they have
little else to do; and third, that they have more opportunity to attend
church when they desire to do so, as most of them are no longer working*
In summary, it has been found that at least 50 per cent of
the retired persons living in West Palm Beach participate to a signi¬
ficant extent in religious activities* Thus, about one-half of these
people attend church services at least once a month, while one-fourth
go once a week* Only about one in three of the total group, however,
are members of a church, while one in six belong to some church
auxiI¡ary*
Four clergymen were interviewed to learn something of their
attitudes and the activities of their religious organizations with re¬
gard to older and retired persons. These officials believe that the
older person needs most of a 11 comfort and reassurance from his church

145
to carry him through what is usually a lonely period. None of the
churches represented by these four men has any special programs for
the older group, though it was reported that many of these people
participate in activities designed for all adults. The churches min¬
ister to their aged both through visitation and financial assistance
where needed. The four pastors feel that older persons attend church
more regularly than do younger adults, but do not believe that there
is a greater than proportional concentration of elders in their
organizations

PART FIVE
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

CHAPTER XIII
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
This project has been carried out in an effort to obtain
a general description of the characteristics and economic and social
situation of the retired people living in West Palm Beach, Florida*
The methods of obtaining information included an interview survey
of the retired persons living In the city, chosen according to a
randomly selected, systematic block sample, as well as interviews
with selected community leaders*
Knowledge about this group should be valuable, because retire¬
ment Is presenting problems for many individuals in our society, while
at the same time the number of persons in this situation is increasing
both absolutely and proportionally. Many parts of Florida, including
West Palm Beach, should receive special consideration in this respect,
as they are receiving numbers of retired persons from other areas*
A survey of the literature indicated that a few community
surveys have been made in cities and towns functioning as retirement
centers, which concentrated attention upon people in the older age
group. One of these, done in St. Petersburg, Florida, studied retired
people as a group, rather than those persons above some arbitrary age*
It furnished a frame of reference upon which this project is based.*
* Irving L* Webber, The Retired Populat ion of St. Petersburg
Its Characteristics and Social Situation. Tallahassee: Florida State
Improvement Commission, 1950*
146

147
The sample which was taken, though not perfectly random, gave
results which in the opinion of the writer are generally valid for the
entire retired population of West Palm Beach. The principal findings
and conclusions of this study may be summarized as follows:
During the survey, 216 white retired persons were contacted who
lived in 84 of the 909 blocks which are not in the Negro section of the
city. An expansion of this sample value indicates that approximately
2,400 white retired persons are living in West Palm Beach. This con¬
stitutes 5.5 per cent of the 43,162 persons of all ages, both white
and non-white, residing there in 1950.
Most of the retired persons in West Palm Beach are in the older
age groups, though about one-third are under 65. The median age of
these people is near 70 years.
There are more retired women than men living in the city with
a sex ratio for the group of about 75. Approximately one-half of the
people in the group are married and another one-third widowed. Pro¬
portionally, more men are married and fewer widowed, than is true for
the women.
The places of birth of these people vary widely in geographic
location, with only one person in twenty having been born in Florida.
About one-half of the persons in this group were born in northern
states, and one-fifth in foreign countries.
Over three-fourths of the retired people studied are protestants,
%
and most of the remainder are Catholic. There was only a very small
number of persons of the Jewish faith in the sample group.

148
About one-half of the retired persons have completed nine
grades of schooling, and almost one-third have graduated from high
school. These proportions seem high for those who received their
formal education from thirty to seventy years ago.
Approximately one-half of all have retired since 1945, and
about three-fourths since 1940. The principal wage earners of the
families studied previously were engaged in a wide variety of occupa¬
tions, about equally divided between the "white collar" and the "trade
and labor" groups. Evidently a large number of them were small busi¬
ness men, in clerical and sales work, or in the skilled and semi¬
skilled trades, with a few professional men and some common laborers
included in the group.
Almost all of these principal wage earners were forced to leave
their main lifetime occupations against their wills. Health was the
factor which led most of these persons to involuntary retirement. Very
few were forced to leave their jobs due to reaching a compulsory re¬
tirement age set by their employers. Some of the widows living in the
city entered the retired status at the death of their husbands.
Information was obtained which strongly indicates that West
Palm Beach functions less as a retirement center than do many Florida
cities. Nevertheless, at least 65 per cent of the retired group in
this community migrated to the city after their retirement. Sample
data, backed by census analyses for the state as a whole, seem to show
%
that aged and retired persons are moving to the city at an increasing
rate. Most of the migrants now in the city, moreover, came within the

149
last five years, and largely from urban areas in the northeastern part
of the United States. Fully 60 per cent of the post-retirement migrants
in the sample group came from cities which were larger than West Palm
Beach in 1940.
Approximately one-third of the persons who migrated to West
Palm Beach after their retirement did so to live with or to be near
relatives. Climate is the main factor which motivated the move of
others to Florida, but the choice of a specific city depended upon a
number of things. About one-third of this segment chose West Palm
Beach on the basis of their experiences as winter visitors, while
several traveled over Florida before deciding to settle in this
community. Economic and housing considerations probably were important
also for many of these persons in the selection of a new city in which
to I ive.
The housing situation for the retired people of West Palm
Beach is about as satisfactory as could be expected for a general popu¬
lation group. Approximately every other one of these retired indivi¬
duals is still living with his spouse only, while one in six is living
alone, and one in five with a relative. Answers to an attitude ques¬
tion in the survey schedule indicated that most of these people are
not actively dissatisfied with their housing.
About eight out of ten of the dwelling units in West Palm Beach
in which retired people live are individual houses, while most of the
others are apartments units or trailers. The majority of these appeared
to be in good condition. Thus, few of the dwelling units in the sample

150
seemed to be del api dated, and not many of them were observed to be
noticeably in need of repair* On the other hand, few of the units
were in the luxury class* Almost all of them must have been at least
10 years old* There was little evidence of overcrowding in the hous¬
ing for the retired people in the city.
More than one-fourth of the households in which retired per¬
sons live are headed by individuals who are still working. Almost all
of the retired persons maintaining their own homes are owners, rather
than renters* The value of these homes are probably rather modest on
an average, with the median value reported for the sample at $10,000.
Retired persons contemplating migration to West Palm Beach
usually desire to buy two bedroom, one-story houses valued at about
$10,000, although some want investment property, or land suitable
for part-time farming
The information collected in the survey strongly indicates
that most of the retired persons of the city are of modest means, and
that only a few enjoy great wealth. While not many members of the
sample appeared to be suffering from abject poverty, replies to an
attitude question in the schedule indicated that at least one member
of one family group out of four feels that he is faced with a serious
economic problem.
Almost one-half of the retired heads of households in West Palm
Beach have at least one person dependent upon them. These heads of
households have an average of two sources of income. The most important
means of support are pensions of some type, followed by real estate

151
rentals, savings and assistance from relatives, In the order named.
Only about ten per cent of the retired heads of households in
the city have any part-time employment, although most of them would
like to work, if they could find suitable jobs. There appears, how¬
ever, to be little work available in the city for those of their train¬
ing and age.
The health status of the majority of the retired persons in
West Palm Beach is not unfavorable. An attitude question disclosed
that only about one person in six thought that his health was poor or
very poor, while almost one in three stated that he had no physical
ailments. Evidently, few retired persons in the city are suffering
from serious disabling illnesses, while less than one-half of these
people visit a doctor regularly. Over one-half of these retired persons
have some type of physical ailment, though many of these are not of
a serious nature.
A large proportion of the cases carried by the Visiting Nurses
Association of the city are persons in the older age group who are
suffering chronic illnesses. The health needs of indigent older per¬
sons are served by the County Welfare Department, while programs of
this organization in helping to provide nursing home facilities for
the county deserves special attention.
Most of the retired persons living in West Palm Beach have at
least one-half of each day to use as they please. About one-half of
these individuals spend a significant amount of their time working in
and around the house and in the garden or yard. Except for these

152
activities most of the group evidently prefer passive, sedentary
pastimes, with less than one-fourth engaging in sports, or other
strenuous activities away from home. About three-fourths of the city's
retired group reads for an average of at least one hour a day, while
almost al I of the households in which these persons live receive
newspapers*
The recreation department of the city furnishes a number of
facilities which are of interest to the retired group. These appear to
be sufficient for the present demand.
Retired people living in West Palm Beach have indicated some
interest in adult education* One-fourth of those in the sample stated
that they would like to study a subject or learn a new skill if classes
were made available* As yet, however, few courses have been offered
of interest to these persons by the county school system, one reason
being that interests are diverse and there usually has been insuffi¬
cient demand for any one subject.
Social participation on the part of almost one-half of the re¬
tired people in the city appears to be at a minimum. Thus, about this
many members of the sample stated that they spent no time in informal
visiting; while the same proportion, though not necessarily the same
persons, belonged to no organization when interviewed*
Only about one retired person in four belongs to a secular 01—
ganization. Of the organizational memberships held by the retired
group, approximately one-third are in secret lodges, with the rest
divided between general, civic, and patriotic clubs* There are only a

153
few, small organizations in the city whose memberships are composed
mostly of those in the retired group.
About one-half of the retired persons in the city attend church
services at least once a month, while one-fourth go once a week. Only
about one in three of the total group, however, are members of a church,
while one in six belongs to some church auxiliary.
Churches of the city aid retired and older persons through
visitation and benevolent programs. According to their ministers,
four of the large churches in the city do not have a greater than pro¬
portional number of older and retired persons, but those in this group
participate to a greater extent than do younger adults.

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McKain, W. C. "The Social Participation of Old People in a California
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SURVEY OF RETIRED PEOPLE, FLORIDA,
Retirement Research Division
Florid* Staia Improvement Commission
Tallahassee
1# Schedule Number ______ 2. Date of Interview _______ 3* City _
Information about person being interviewed: t&at to be asked.)
4. Sex - - M F 5« Race - - White Other (specify)
6. Where (city and state or foreign country) did you live before retiring?
7« What year did you retire?
8,Why did you choose Florida as a retirement home?
9.What yeat did you move to this city?
10.Why did you pick this city rather than any other Florida city?
11» Who are the people living with you in your immediate household?
Spouse Is he or she retired?
Son (-in-law) ^
Daughter (-in-law)
Sister
Brother _____
Grandchildren
Other (Who are they) _____
156

157
12. Are you married? _______ Married but not living with spouse?
Divorced? Widowed? Single?
13. How much time each day is free for you to do as you please aside from
household duties?
Person Interviewed Spouse
All Day
A half day
A few hours
Almost none
u. What do you do in your free time?
Work in and around the house
Work in the yard or garden
Work on some hobby
Listen to the radio
Farm work
Write letters
Write books, articles, poems, etc.
Attend movies
Attend theaters, lectures, concerts
Attend clubs, lodges, other meetings
Shop
Participate in community or church work
Play golf, other sports
Play cards or other table games
Take rides
Visit or entertain friends
Sew, crochet, or knit
Read
Just sit and think
Other (what?)
15. Which three of these take up most of your free time?
(Number items: 1,2,3»)
16. Do you have a special hobby? What is it?
17.Does your spouse have a special hobby? What is it?
2

158
18.In order to find out what kind of social activities retired people take part
in, we would like to know the name of each local organization of which you
are a member. Please include clubs, churches and church groups, patriotic
societies, fraternities, sororities, fraternal organizations and auxiliaries.
Organization
How many meetings
do you usually
attend each
month
Have you held
any offices
within the
past two yrs
Are you now
on any com¬
mittee? Which?
19.Does your spouse belong to any organizations in this city?
Organization
How many meetings
does he usually
attend each j •
month
Has ., be a held
any offices
within the
past two yrs.
Is hou now
on any com¬
mittee? Which?
20.What is your religious preference? Protestant (denomination
Catholic , Jewish , Other (specify)
)
21.What is your spouse's religious perference?
Protestant (denomination
Catholic
Jewish
Other (specify)
3

159
22. How often do you attend regular religious services:
Person Interviewed Spouse
Never
Less than once a month
Once or twice a month
Once a week
Twice a week
Oftener
23. Have you been visited during the past year by friends or relatives from
other states? Yes No About how many visits?
What states did the visitors come from?
24. Do you or does some other member of your household own a car? Yes No
Make and year
25. What is your usual mode of travel in town?
Walking? Bicycle? Bus? Family car?
Friends' cars? Other (specify)
26. Do you consider your present living quarters satisfactory for your needs?
Yes No If not, what kind of housing facilities would you prefer?
27. Do you own or rent your present living quarters? Rent Own
What is the monthly rental?
What is the approximate value of your home?
28. Do you think that retired people are happier living in a neighborhood made
up largely of middle aged and older people? Yes Don't know
No
4

160
29. It has been suggested that small communities made up of from 500 to 1000
or more retired people might be built by private interests. Housing would
be constructed to suit the needs of these people. The communities would be
within thirty minutes or so of the center of a larger town or city. They
would contain many essential facilities such as a community hall for recrea¬
tion and visiting, and a drug end grocery store. Around each house would
be space for gardens and lawns. There would also be organized community
activities. Living units would be rented for a reasonable figure or the
houses would be purchased for a moderate price.
Would you move to such a village for retired people if you could?
Yes No Not sure Why?
30. What was your principal occupation (or your husband's occupation)before
retirement?
Did you operate your own business? Yes No
What industry? ^
What was the name of your firm?
32. Did you derive your income immediately before retirement chiefly from:
Inherited wealth Earned wealth from stocks and bonds and real
estate Profits and Fees Salary
Wages (paid on an hourly or weekly basis) Other
33. What is the chief reason for your retirement from full-time employment?
I. Reached age at which employer required employees to retire
II. Retired Voluntarily
A. Health poor
B. Tired of working
C. Other (Specify
5

161
3k. How do you consider your present income as related to your needs?
Comfortable
Enough to get along
Can't make ends meet
35. What is your chief means of support? (Read list):
Pension(s) from earlier occupation Savings
Kind(s) Life-insurance annuities
Part-time employment
Real estate rentals Assistance from rela¬
tives or fiie.nds
36.
37.
38.
39.
Stocks and bonds
Loans and mortgages
Old-age Assistance
Other (specify)
Other investments
Is anyone dependent upon you for support? Yes No
If yos, how many? How many in this city?
If you have worked since coming to this city, how many days have you been
employed during the past year? Full-time days(more than 20 hours
per week) Part-time days
Why have you worked since coming to this city?
Need money
Like to be active
Patriotic duty
Desire to be with friends
Other
If you are not working, would you like to work if you could find a suitable
job? Yes No Why?
If yes, would you prefer to work: Part-time Full-time
6

162
40.How many years of school did you complete:
No schooling
Grades 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 6 .
High school i"jr yjr.
College 12 3 4
Other schooling "(number of years)
Business
College, post graduate
Trade
Other
41.How many years of school was your spouse able to complete?
No schooling ..
Grades 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
High School 1 2 3 ~4
College 12 3 ~~£
Other schooling-("number of years)
Business
College, post graduate
Trade
Other
42. Would you like to study any subject or learn a new skill if a class were
available? Yes No If so, what subject?
Skill? __
43. How much time each day do you spend in reading?
Never read
A few minutes
About an hour
3 or 4 hours
Practically all day
44. What do you read mostly? Books (Fiction Non-fiction )
Magazines Newspapers
45. What magazines do you read regularly?
46.Do you read any newspapers regularly? Yes No
What newspapers?
7

163
47. Do you consider your health: Very poor Poor Fair Good. Excellent ?
48. what serious physical problems do you have?
Heart trouble Asthma
Arthritis Nervous ailments
High or low blood pressure Hardening of arteries
Blindness and eye disease Stomach trouble
Poor sight Crippled arms, legs, hands
Diabetes Hard of hearing
Varicose veins Deaf or nearly so
Other
49.Were you too sick to leave your bed at any time since January 1, 1951* If
so, how long? All the time
A month or more
Two tp four weeks
A few days
None
50. Since January 1, 1951 -
Have you visited a doctor? Yes No How many times?
Have you been visited by a doctor? Yes No How many times?
Have you been hospitalized? Yes No How many days?
Have you employed a nurse? Yes No How many days?
51. Are you a registered voter? Yes No What party affiliation?
Democrat
Republican
Unaffiliated
Other (specify)
52.Did you happen to vote in the last city election, or did something come up
that prevented you from doing so?
53.Would you like to continue living indefinitely in this city? Yes-- 1
Don’t know No
8

164
5k. What do you like best about living in this city?
55* What do you think is most lacking in this city?
56.Do you plan to do any of these things within the next year or two?
Take a pleasure trip
Begin new work
Redecorate or remodel home
Start a garden or farm
Visit children, relatives or friends
Do you have any other plans? Yes No If so,what
57. How do you feel about your life now as compared with your life before you
retired? Are you:
Happier
About the same
Not as happy
58. What is your name?
59. Where (city and state or country) were you born?
60. How old are you?
61. What is your spouse's name
62. Where (city and state or country) was .â–  be1* born?
63. How old is he?
6k. Address
9


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
The writer was born in Clearwater, Florida, on February 27,
1928. He attended the public schools in that city where he completed
high school in 1945.
He entered the University of Florida in June of the same year,
and attended this institution until September, 1946, when he enlisted
in the United States Army. He reentered the University of Florida in
1948, and received his Bachelor of Arts Degree with Honors in July,
1950.
From September, 1950, to the present time the writer has been
enrolled in the Graduate School of this institution. He was a graduate
assistant in the Department of Sociology during the school year 1950-
SI, and was awarded a graduate fellowship for the following year.
He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Alpha Kappa
Delta, honorary sociological fraternity, Gamma Sigma Epsilon, honorary
chemical fraternity, Sigma Chi social fraternity.

This thesis was prepared under the direction of the chairman
of the candidate’s supervisory committee and has been approved by all
members of the committee* It was submitted to the Graduate Council
and was approved as partial fulfilment of the requirements for the
degree of Master of Arts.
SUPERVISORY COMMITTEES

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
3 1262 07332 061 5




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