Citation
Economic and community motivators for U.S. baby boomer retirees' migration into Lake Chapala, Mexico

Material Information

Title:
Economic and community motivators for U.S. baby boomer retirees' migration into Lake Chapala, Mexico a pilot study
Creator:
Luther, Travis Scott
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
ix, 135 leaves : ; 28 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Retirees -- Mexico -- Chapala, Lake ( lcsh )
Baby boom generation -- Retirement -- Mexico -- Chapala, Lake ( lcsh )
Baby boom generation -- Retirement ( fast )
Retirees ( fast )
Mexico -- Lake Chapala ( fast )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Thesis:
Thesis (M.A.)--University of Colorado Denver, 2011.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 129-135).
General Note:
Department of Sociology
Statement of Responsibility:
by Travis Scott Luther.

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Source Institution:
University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
757515772 ( OCLC )
ocn757515772

Full Text
ECONOMIC & COMMUNITY MOTIVATORS FOR U.S. BABY BOOMER
RETIREES' MIGRATION INTO LAKE CHAPALA, MEXICO:
A PILOT STUDY
By
Travis Scott Luther
B.A., Metropolitan State College of Denver, 2008
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirement for the degree of
Masters in Sociology
2011.


This thesis for the Masters in Sociology
degree by
Travis Scott Luther
has been approved
by
Loren Cobb
7/ay//
DATE


Luther, Travis Scott (Masters of Sociology)
Economic & Community Motivators for U.S. Baby
Boomer Retirees' Migration into Lake Chapala, Mexico: A Pilot Study
Thesis Directed by Professor Sharon K. Araji
ABSTRACT
A number of factors and events led to the purpose of this research, which was to
conduct a pilot study of U.S. Baby Boomers who chose to retire in the Lake Chapala
region of Mexico, rather than continue living in the United States. Specifically, the
research focused on determining what motivated Baby Boomers to migrate to Mexico at
retirement. Relevant theories and a literature review guide the development of
hypotheses. Descriptive statistics, based on online survey responses from 44 Lake
Chapala Baby Boomers, indicate that economics is an important motivator for almost half
of the respondents in decisions to migrate to Mexico, however decisions to stay are very
much related to perceptions that Lake Chapala represents a better community life for
their age cohort, when contrasted to living in the United States. Policy implications are
discussed and directions for future research are offered.
This abstract represents the content of this candidates thesis. I recommend its
publication.
Signed
Sharon Araji
hi


DEDICATION
I dedicate this thesis to my two sons, Henry and Benjamin Luther.
May learning be your first true love.
And to my first true love, my wife, Sommer D. Luther.
IV


ACKNOWLEGEMENTS
I want to thank Dr. Paula Fomby for her many inspirations and guidance. Dr.
Sharon Araji for her commitment to me and my education. Dr. Loren Cobb for his
enthusiasm and insight. Dr. Pete Padilla for his friendship and unique perspective.
A very special thank you is also extended to Dr. David Truly. Without his
previous research and personal assistance this thesis would not have been
possible.
I would also like to thank my very good friend Samuel Gordon for his friendship.
In support of this thesis, he spent many afternoons proving our friendship was
genuine.
v


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Figures.....................................................xv
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION..............................................1
Personal Introduction..................................1
Statement of Purpose.................................. 5
2. LITERATURE REVIEW........................................ 8
Current U.S. Retirement Outlook........................8
Defining the Traditional Retirement Care Model.........9
Defining Baby Boomer Retirees..........................9
Baby Boomers' Financial Concerns for Retirement.......10
Changing Baby Boomer Family Structure ............... 11
Female Retirees.......................................11
Retirees & Racial Diversity...........................12
Baby Boomers' Mental Health & Concern for Community...13
Consumerism & Baby Boomer Alienation..................14
Retiree Migration.....................................15
Late Life Migration...................................18
3. THEORETICAL RATIONAL.....................................21
Classical Sociological Theory.........................21
Contemporary Theories of Community....................25
4. STATEMENT OF HYPOTHESES..................................28
vi


Hypothesis 1........................................28
Hypothesis 2........................................28
Hypothesis 3........................................29
Hypothesis 4........................................29
5. METHODS..................................................30
Preliminary Research Evaluation.....................30
Survey Instrument & Sampling........................31
Survey Questions....................................32
Hypotheses Testing............................34
Hypothesis 1............................34
Hypothesis 2............................37
Hypothesis 3............................38
Hypothesis 4............................38
6. RESULTS..................................................40
Chapala Baby Boomer Demographic Profile........40
7. DISCUSSION...............................................55
Limitations..........................................59
8. CONCLUSIONS.............................................61
Future Research Considerations.......................62
9. NOTES....................................................64
10. APPENDIX...............................................69
A. Consent Form & Survey.............................69
vii


B. IRB Documentation...........................98
11. REFERENCES......................................129
vm


LIST OF FIGURES
Figure
1 Annual Income Distribution of Chapala Boomers versus U.S. Retirees...41
2 Educational Distribution. Chapala Boomers v. U.S. Boomers............42
3 Distribution of Race. Chapala Boomers v. U.S. Population.............43
4 Age Distribution of Chapala Boomers..................................44
5 Distribution of Chapala Boomers' Marital Status.....................45
6 Distribution of Chapala Boomers' Political Values................... 46
7 Chapala Boomers' Political Party Affiliation........................47
8 Percentage of Baby Boomers Response to Six Measures of Good
Community...........................................................48
9 Chapala Boomers' Perceptions of Alienation and Stigmatization........49
10 Economics as a Motivator for Retiring in Mexico......................51
11 Jacob's Dimensions for Good Community...............................53
IX


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION & STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
Introduction
I grew up in a rural area of the United States, within an agricultural region
known as the Palouse. The community was small, insulated, conservative, and
largely working class. The area rests on the central border of Washington and
Idaho.
The 1980s and early 1990s made up my formative years. This period
encompassed the end of the Cold War, seemingly endless civil wars in Africa,
Bosnian Genocide, the Narco wars of Central America, and the first Persian Gulf
War. It was during this time, as a teenager, that I came to generalize the world
outside of the United States as dangerous and uneducated.
I carried this view, largely unchallenged, into my early adult years. In
1998 and 1999,1 attended Washington State University in Pullman, Washington.
Due to some family and business interruptions, I ended up dropping out of
college. In 2004,1 had an opportunity to move to Denver with a friend and return
to school. Once in Denver, I made finishing college my top priority. Returning to
school gave me access to information and ideas that I had previously locked out.
For the first time in my life, I became far more inquisitive than certain. While
completing my general education requirements, I stumbled upon and formed an
intense romance with sociological theory. The theories in sociology were so
1


interesting to me, that I changed my major from Marketing to Behavioral Science.
During this time, I also stumbled upon and formed an intense romance
with an attorney. I had a slight knack for technology and art, and, as I finished my
bachelors degree, I started building a nice business for myself, serving the
technology and graphic design needs of attorneys. It was not long before my
services were in high demand. Soon I was beginning to feel overwhelmed with
both school and business and started to contract some of my work out to other
technology professionals in Denver.
In the spring of 2006,1 was sitting in the Denver International Airport,
waiting to board a plane for a visit back to Washington. Bored to death, I
wandered into a terminal bookstore. With no real knowledge of the books
contents, I bought The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman (2005). I became
completely engrossed and read like I had never read before. What is relevant
about The World is Flat for this thesis is that it vividly revealed to me a world
outside of the United States more modem than I had ever considered. Friedman
described the hustle and bustle of international entrepreneurs in a way in which I
could personally identify. Friedman interviewed young people growing businesses
abroad who were struggling with some of the same challenges I was struggling
with as a young business person in the United States. Through his book, Friedman
had connected me to the international business community in a very personal way.
Additionally, the book turned upside down every preconceived notion I had about
India and her people. For the first time in my life, Friedman had me really
2


questioning whether or not the United States offered the best of everything,
especially with regard to mathematics and engineering education.
The effect of The World is Flat simmered inside me for a year. Then in
2007, Timothy Ferriss released a business/lifestyle book titled The 4-Hour Work
Week. The premise of Ferriss book is that many of the tasks in our businesses and
our personal lives can be outsourced to others. According to Ferris, doing so frees
up your time, improves your quality of life, and allows you to do more of what
you want to do not what you have to do. Ferriss and Friedmans books are
related to this thesis because they both discuss the convergence of technology and
outsourcing, specifically the increasing ability of fast, low-cost internet
connections to connect the world. What Ferriss provided in his book, that
Friedman did not, was actual contact information and web-based portals for
international outsourcing. Like Walt Whitman said of Ralph Waldo Emerson, I
was simmering, simmering, simmering, Emerson brought me to a boil
(Trowbridge 1902). It was Ferriss who brought me to a boil. Armed with
Ferrisss resources, I aggressively began seeking out opportunities to connect with
entrepreneurs outside of the United States.
In 2008,1 started outsourcing some of my business projects to India,
Eastern Europe, and South America. I also used these outsourcing experiments as
an opportunity to try and connect on a personal level with the foreigners I was
working with, asking all sorts of questions about what life was like where they
lived. Not all of my outsourcing experiments were successful or financially
3


advantageous, but they completely changed the way I viewed the world outside of
the United States. I started focusing a lot more of my time reading about
international history. Because of its close proximity to the United States, I started
using Mexico and South America as the focal point of most of my remaining
undergraduate studies.
By 2009,1 was convinced that I had been both completely ignorant for the
last 20 years of my life and that the world was rapidly changing in my favor. By
this time I had entered the Masters of Sociology program at the University of
Colorado Denver. My wife and I had our first son and another one on the way.
Recognizing that I had perhaps grown-up a bit sheltered, I began to consider the
consequences of a strictly U.S. based life on my children and their future
perceptions of the world. Finding opportunities to expose my children to other
cultures led me to seek out the whereabouts of expatriate enclaves. I started to
explore the possibility of some long-term international sabbaticals for our family.
It was during this period that my personal interest in locating expatriate groups
coincided with having to make a final determination about the direction of my
Masters thesis. As a result of this personal and scholastic collision, the most basic
premise of this thesis was bom: why would anyone want to move away from the
United States? Due to the proximity of Mexico, my exploration began there.
4


Statement of Purpose
The question, why would anyone want to move away from the United
States is obviously far too broad a question to be tackled in a Masters thesis.
Thus, the purpose of this study had to be narrowed to a few reasonable goals.
First, I decided to conduct a pilot study that would isolate one specific
community in Mexico where U.S. citizens were permanently migrating. Through
some online research, I located a large pocket of U.S. expatriates living in the
Lake Chapala region of Mexico. The Lake Chapala region of Mexico is located in
the western-pacific part of the country, a little over 100 miles directly east of
Puerto Vallarta. The region hugs Lake Chapala itself, which is Mexico's largest
body of fresh water. Guadalajara, Mexico's second largest city, with a population
of about 1.5 million people, is just 30 miles directly north of Lake Chapala. It is in
the Lake Chapala region that I located the Lake Chapala Society (LCS), an area
non-profit that assists people moving into the Lake Chapala region from other
countries (www.LakeChapalaSociety.org). Once the community for my pilot
study was identified, the second and primary research purposes were to assess the
motivations of U.S. Baby Boomers who chose to retire in the Lake Chapala
region of Mexico, and to create a demographic profile of this population (using
commonly collected demographic variables such as race, annual income,
educational attainment, marital status, political orientation, etc.). Where
comparable data was available, this profile would be compared to the
demographic profile of their U.S. based counterparts.
5


During my literature review, I located an article by Dr. David Truly
(Tourism Geographies 2002), who had conducted previous research with some of
the LCS membership. I reached out to Dr. Truly via a telephone call. He agreed to
meet my wife and I in Lake Chapala during a summer vacation. Truly was a
trusted visitor of the LCS. An association with him gave me easy access to LCS
leadership. This access made conducting this type of pilot study very convenient.
Additionally, Dr. Trulys openness to guiding me in my study was also extremely
reassuring, and, given my limited resources, made the LCS membership the most
feasible fit.
This pilot study is important because academic research about where U.S.
retirees are migrating and what makes these international retirement destinations
attractive are scarce. According to AARP (1999), a growing number of U.S.
retirees (currently 5%) are taking advantage of permanent international migration
as one way to stretch their retirement dollars. This may be evidence that some
retirees are not convinced that U.S. policy makers can adequately address their
retirement concerns. In the face of the current U.S. recession, retiree's economic
needs seem justified. Their private retirement accounts are exposed to a wildly
fluctuating market, there is little access to guaranteed pensions, and entitlement
programs such as Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare are facing increased
strain and restrictions. This thesis will help fill in some of the gaps in the literature
related to where U.S. retirees are going and what motivates them to stay there. It
will also provide us with some comparative information about similarities and
6


differences between U.S. Baby Boomers who leave the U.S. to live elsewhere and
those who remain in the U.S. at the time of retirement.
7


CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW
Current U.S. Retirement Outlook
More U.S. citizens are facing retirement now than at any other time
in history (Moen et al. 2008). The U.S. population 65 or older has grown from 3
million in 1900 to over 35 million today (Wilmoth & Longino 2006). Those 65 or
older reached 12.4% in 2000 and this number is projected to grow an additional
20%, reaching 90 million by 2060 (Himes 2001). According to Wilmoth &
Longino (2006), over the past 50 years the age of retirement for men and women
has declined dramatically in the United States. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and
Statistics (2001) reported that in 1950, the average retirement age of men was
68.5-years-old and women 67.9-years-old. By 2000, the average age of retirement
for men had dropped to 62.6-years-old. For women it had dropped to 62.5-years-
old (Glendell 2001). Economists disagree as to whether or not these trends will
continue. Some predict an increase in retirement age due to changes in Social
Security policy (Clark and Quinn 2002). Earlier researchers (Costa 1998) believed
early retirement would remain an affordable option. With life expectancy
increasing (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for
Health Statistics 2004), the retirement phase is currently predicted to represent
24% of a persons life (Wilmoth & Longino 2006).
8


Defining The Traditional Retirement Model
The traditional retirement care model, pioneered by the parents of Baby
Boomers, has been called the Golden Age of Retirement (Weinstein 1988).
These pension elite were able to live comfortably on a guaranteed income from
previous employment as well as income from Social Security (Hass & Serow
2002:151). This retirement model was marked by an abrupt withdrawal from the
labor force, at an average age of 62, with relocation to age-dense retirement
communities. Retirement financial planning consisted of estimating ones income
immediately prior to retirement, approximating ones life expectancy, estimating
an amount one would need to live on every month, and then making an
appropriate monthly contribution to a low risk fund or group of securities with
returns that exceeded inflation (Basu 2005:29). Some researchers seriously
question whether the traditional retirement care model was ever available to
today's Baby Boomers (Haas & Serow 2002). There is also concern over the
general availability, affordability, and quality of'traditional' age-dense assisted
living (Golant & Hyde 2008).
Defining Baby Boomer Retirees
Baby Boomers, persons bom between 1946 and 1964, represent the largest
birth cohort in our nations history. Seventy-six million strong, the first wave of
this cohort is just now beginning to retire (AARP 1999). It is estimated that
starting January 1, 2011 more than 10,000 Baby Boomers a day will turn 65, a
9


pattern that will continue for the next 19 years (Associated Press 2010). For
Baby Boomers, their entry into the retirement phase comes with a number of
significant economic challenges and societal changes.
Babv Boomers' Financial Concerns for Retirement
The scientific literature on Baby Boomers is clearly concerned with the
financial consequences of this rapidly growing cohort of retirees. Studies related
to Baby Boomers' personal finances find that only 57% of Baby Boomers have
retirement accounts, with a median amount of $2000.00 held in these accounts
(DeVaney & Chiremba 2005). According to Hass & Serow (2002:153), 401(k)
retirement plans have overly exposed Baby Boomer retirement accounts to
fluctuations in the market, forcing Baby Boomers to work longer to accumulate
the same retirement savings as their parents, who, as previously noted lived
through the Golden Age of Retirement. A recent Gallup poll (2010) found that
more Americans than ever (34%) are expecting to rely on Social Security as a
major retirement funding source. This might not be a wise plan given that there is
no consensus on how long Social Security will last, or when/if/or how much
payouts may decline (see Proposals Addressing Trust Fund Solvency, Social
Security Administration 2011). Reduced retirement funds are also due in-part to
rising health care and prescription drug costs, which have at least doubled the rate
of inflation over the last 30 years (Basu 2005:29). Rising healthcare costs are also
increasing the strain on entitlement programs such as Medicaid and Medicare -
10


costs which are expected to increase dramatically over the next 20 years (Truffer,
2010).
Changing Babv Boomer Family Structure
Another challenge to financing the traditional retirement model has been
significant changes in the family structure of Baby Boomers from that of their
parents. In fact, only 7% of American households represent the traditional
family model of a married couple with the husband as the sole breadwinner
(Wilmoth & Longino 2006). In 2002, 87% of married couples reported that both
spouses participated in the work force (Wilmoth & Longino 2006:279).
Individuals who are married generate significantly more wealth than individuals
who are not or who have been widowed or divorced (Wilmoth & Koso 2002). The
percentage of the U.S. population who has never been married has been rising as
has the percentage of the population who has been divorced (U.S. Census Bureau
2003). In 2002, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that over 30% of Baby Boomers
were unmarried. The reduced number of dual income households related to
changing family structure is sure to change how and when Baby Boomers will
retire and the quality of life they can expect.
Female Retirees
Single women, who traditionally receive lower salaries and fewer
promotions than their male counterparts, are a growing demographic who will
11


need new and inventive forms of retirement planning (Cohen, et al. 2009). Some
Baby Boomer women will be entering retirement with significant financial
challenges, including living on average five years longer than men (National Vital
Statistics Reports 2007). However, according to Smith & Willmoth (2001) a
smaller percentage of women than men receive occupational pensions. Further, of
women who do receive pensions, they usually receive lower amounts than men
(Street & Wilmoth 2001). This is partly explained by the fact that though Baby
Boomer women entered the work force in higher numbers than women of the
previous generation, they entered in a smaller percentage, entered later, and
withdrew earlier than their male counterparts (Schieber 1996). Additionally, in
between positions women are more likely to make early withdrawals from their
retirement funds, thus suffering substantial early withdrawal penalties and a
reduced fund in general (Hass & Serow 2002:157). Finally, women are more
likely than men to experience downward mobility as a result of divorce (Newman
1988:13), another potential setback given that divorces among Baby Boomers are
on the rise (U.S. Census Bureau 2003).
Retirees & Racial Diversity
Todays older population is less ethnically and racially diverse than the
U.S. population as a whole. The American Community Survey (2006) reported
that non-Hispanic whites make up 74% of the overall U.S. population, whereas
83% of adults 65 and older are non-Hispanic whites (Federal Interagency Forum
12


on Aging-Related Statistics 2000). The fastest growing minority group 65 and
older are Hispanics, estimated to make up 16% of the older adult population by
2050 (Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics).
Baby Boomers' Mental Health and Concern for Community
In addition to financial concerns, researchers (Glass 2009) worry about
Baby Boomers' emotional and mental health. Researchers examining factors that
create good community in senior cohousing have identified mental exercise, civic
engagement, group decision making, and the availability of meaningful
opportunities to participate within the community as important dimensions for
community satisfaction (Glass 2009). The Centers for Disease Control (2000)
believe that the good health of Baby Boomers can be extended by preventing
cognitive decline. Wilson & Simson (2006:78) also suggest a positive correlation
between cognitive exercise and quality of life. Their compilation of research
reports quality of life for Baby Boomers can improve when meaningful
opportunities for Baby Boomer volunteerism and civic engagement are present
(Wilson & Simson 2006:76-77). Even the White House Conference on Aging
(2005) placed good community over affordability in its list of priorities related to
retirement policy planning. But Putnum (2000) is very concerned that in the U.S.,
opportunities for meaningful community involvement and civic engagement are
declining.
Breheny (2009) believes that while meaningful community is important,
13


we should not be too quick to overlook the value of a strong sense of personal
independence among our aging population. That is, Breheny (2009:1296) argues
that seniors perceive independence as a marker of successful aging and
dependency on others as a fault. Though personal independence and community
connectedness seem like potentially contradictory terms, Breheny (2009)
reconciles the two by arguing that opportunities for reciprocity in individual
exchanges can actually preserve a seniors sense of self-reliance, while at the
same time improving social connectedness. Reciprocity (exchanges between
community members which help each other to an equal extent) provides an
opportunity for community building which does not leave either party feeling that
they are in a dependent position (Breheny 2009:1297).
Consumerism and Babv Boomer Alienation
Wendell Berry (1992:121) warns that the media and consumerism are
breading distrust, and that community is being destroyed by the desires and
ambitions of both private and public life. In the U.S. this has resulted in a
conventional prejudice against old people (italics mine), history, parental
authority, religious faith, sexual discipline, manual work, rural people and rural
life, anything local or small or inexpensive (1992:158). Berry (1992:133)
concludes that the triumph of the industrial economy is the fall of community.
Galston & Lopez are suspicious that as the market has become more
pervasive... the range of opportunities to develop nonmarket skills and
14


dispositions has narrowed (Wilson & Simson 2006:5). Wennersten (2008:10)
writes that, For many Americans, all that is left to transact in the American
community is the purchase of a more expensive automobile or house.
In Putmans (2000:27) historical rendition of community he insists that
over the last 30 years a rip current of self-absorption has been tearing apart our
civic engagement with one another. Galston & Lopez (Wilson & Simson 2006:5)
also note that from the 1930s through the early 1960s solidaristic organizations
have weakened, and the principal of individual choice has emerged as our central
value.
Retiree Migration
As noted earlier, there is evidence that some retirees are not convinced that
relying on U.S. policy makers can guarantee comfortable retirement. According to
AARP (1999), a growing number of U.S. retirees (currently 5%) are taking
advantage of permanent international migration as one way to stretch their
retirement dollars. Addressing this growing interest, since 2008, AARP has
published at least fifteen separate reports or bulletins on U.S. Retiree migration
into Mexico (www.icfdn.org 2005; AARP 2010), naming Puerto Vallarta as the
best Mexican destination for U.S. Retiree migration; citing its low cost of living
and laid back lifestyle as the area's primary attractions. But academic research
about where U.S. retirees are migrating to and what features of these migration
destinations are truly most attractive are scarce. It is surprising that researchers
15


have been so slow to explore these questions, especially since businesses have
not. A Google search (07/11/11) for the keyword international retirement returns
over 36 million relevant pages, with most of these first page results coming from
international relocation 'experts', authors, and real estate agents. There is little in
the academic literature addressing international retirement migration. Rather,
researchers seem more concerned with people still in the workforce. Current
research primarily addresses strategies for successful assimilation of U.S.
business people into foreign territories as U.S. based corporations make moves
into emerging foreign economies (Boyacigiller 1989; Luthans & Famer 2002;
Gerrard 2011).
With regard to expatriate out-migration (migration out of the United
States) for people of all ages, Wennersten (2008:7) identifies a number of
traditional motivations for why expatriates leave the United States. These include
tax advantages, exotic self-indulgence, military service, and attractive corporate
salaries. But he also believes these traditional motivations are far too simple.
Based on his own research, he identified six motivators that help explain
contemporary expatriate out-migration: (1) Transnational and Lifestyle
Realization, (2) Cultural Dissonance: Alienation and the Mobility Question, (3)
Entrepreneurial Advancement, (4) Settlement and Re-adaption, (5) Economic
Dissent, and (6) Expanding Gender Domains (Wennersten, 2008:8).
Wennersten (2008:8) describes Transnational and Lifestyle Realization as
a consequence of increasingly insignificant national borders, and low international
16


costs of living that allow people of modest means to live abroad. Wennersten
(2008:8) writes that, For many people the goal is to find personal and economic
freedom somewhere in the world and thereby escape the restrictions in their own
society. He explains Cultural Dissonance: Alienation and the Mobility Question
as a symbolic meolodrama in which many Americans are rejecting a conforming
dream of a richer and fuller life that has drawn tens of millions of immigrants to
our shores (p. 9). He finds this migration motivation most pronounced in people
who feel uncertain about what it means to be an American, feel American culture
is much more fragmented than in the past, or have a loose historical memory and
national consciousness (p. 9). Wennersten explains the motive of Entrepreneurial
Advancement as mostly a migration phenomenon among young Americans who
take advantage of the openness of Eastern Europe and parts of Asia to free
enterprise capitalism without the restrictions of age and experience that have
traditionally hampered young people in America (p. 14). Wennersten explains
Settlement and Readaptation as a movement by a significant number of foreign
bom U.S. emigrants back to their home countries after having achieved economic
success in the United States (pp. 14-15). Wennersten explains the motivation of
Economic Dissent as the avoidance of taxes in the U.S. or as taking advantage of
more lenient foreign tax legislation (p. 15). Wennersten explains Expanding
Gender Domains as primarily a migration motivator for women who feel that
work abroad can transform traditional gender roles and expectations for women
around the world (p. 16).
17


Late Life Migration
Migration late in life usually comes with a number of significant
challenges. The psychological and physical impact of late life migration is more
severe compared to migrants who move earlier in the life course (Angel & Angel
1992:496). Studies (Garcia 1985) of elderly migrants moving into the United
States show gaps in the availability of financial services, healthcare, and physical
assistance as well as language barriers and difficulty understanding new cultural
norms. Migration is also a mentally stressful time for seniors and requires strong
social and familial support to decrease the chance of poverty and isolation (Angel
& Angel 1992:482). Senior migrants with inadequate social support tend to suffer
poorer health than senior migrants with ample social support (House, Landis, &
Umberson 1988). Thus, the availability of family is the strongest incentive for
late-life migration (Schmink 1984). For migrants moving into the United States,
ethnic enclaves can provide the economic and social support that increases the
chance of a successful late-life migration (Portes & Jenson 1989).
Of studies on U.S. retiree out-migration, Dr. David Truly provides perhaps
the most comprehensive research on seniors migrating into Mexico. In 2002,
Truly published International retirement migration and tourism along the Lake
Chapala Riveria: developing a matrix of retirement migration behavior (Tourism
Geographies 2002). The purpose of Truly's research was to identify differences in
motivations within the group of U.S. retirees living in Lake Chapala, Mexico.
Truly first identifies a number of reported historical motivators for retirement
18


migration into the Lake Chapala region. These include the want for a tolerant,
egalitarian, casual, and unstructured community (2002:268). More recent
immigrants into the Lake Chapala region commented that though traditional
factors such as climate and cost of living initially attracted them there,
eventually, their appreciation for the Mexican lifestyle and the unique nature of
the foreign community had kept them in the area (Truly, 2002:270).
Truly (2002) hypothesized that of all of the immigrants in Lake Chapala,
their primary motivations could be clustered into three distinct migration
rationales; Negative Migration, Positive Migration, and Importing a Lifestyle.
Truly used Lee's (1960) bimodal taxonomy of migrants to provide a definition for
Positive and Negatively motivated migrants. Lee (1960) defines Negative
Migrants as migrants who leave their home countries because they are dissatisfied
with or persecuted in their home countries, and Positive Migrants as people who
leave their home countries because they wish to be part of a foreign community
they appreciate and respect having no negative feelings towards their home
countries. Truly purposed there existed a third cluster of migrants who were
importing a lifestyle into the Lake Chapala region. This third group had no
negative feelings toward their home countries and had no positive regard for the
local culture. Rather, they wanted to take advantage of the financial advantages
their new country had to offer, while ignoring its culture and insulating
themselves with others who share similar migration motivations (2002:271). This
importing a lifestyle group will not be included in this pilot study. Since they
19


are not associated with any of the Lake Chapala community groups, they are hard
to identify online. Collecting survey data about them would most likely require a
physical presence in the area, which the University of Colorado Mexican research
travel ban eliminated as a possibility.
20


CHAPTER 3
THEORETICAL RATIONAL
Classical Sociological Theory
Perhaps one of the earliest sociologists who was concerned with what
happened to communities as technology advanced societies from rural to
industrial, was German sociologist Emile Durkheim (1858-1917). Durkheim was
concerned with the study of social solidarity and the bonds that linked members
of a group as societies changed (Anderson & Taylor 2011:14). Durkheim believed
there were two, rather simple, bimodal forms of social solidarity; (1) Mechanical
Solidarity, and (2) Organic Solidarity. The historical break between Mechanical
Solidarity and Organic Solidarity came as a consequence of the industrial
revolution, roughly the years spanning 1780-1850 in Europe (Hobsbawm 1996).
Durkheim defines Mechanical Solidarity as community bonds between
individuals generally engaged in similar activities with similar responsibilities,
usually characterized by smaller, rural communities (Ritzer & Goodman
2004:82). Examples of Mechanical Solidarity often describe primitive families
(such as roaming hunter/gatherer clans and early non-nomadic agrarian
communities) in which family members are completely self-sufficient;
responsible for gathering and processing their own means of survival.
Summarizing Durkheim's view, Ritzer & Goodman (2004) write that primitive
21


societies have a stronger collective conscience (italics mine), that is, more shared
understandings, norms, and beliefs (p. 82). In The Division of Labor (1893),
Durkheim defines collective conscience as The totality of beliefs and sentiments
common to average citizens of the same society, forming a determinate system
which has its own life (Turner, Beeghley & Powers 2007:281). Durkheim uses
Organic Society to define modem society (modem to him in his time). For
Durkheim, Organic Society is less self-sufficient than Mechanical Society.
Organic Solidarity is formed by an increased reliance on the services of others
(Ritzer & Goodman 2004:82). In Durkheim's argument, the industrial revolution
has dramatically changed the way social solidarity is produced. In his view, the
industrial revolution creates a division of labor which makes members of society
labor specialists with distinct expertise. The consequence is that each of us
depends more intimately upon society the more labour is divided (Durkhiem,
1893:85). Unlike in a Mechanical Society, individuals in a modem, Organic
Society are no longer self-sufficient. The traditional bonds which linked them are
gone, as they no longer participate in similar activities or share similar
responsibilities. Mechanical bonds have been replaced with industrial bonds, in
which each person stores some knowledge or skill which is exploited by others as
a means to an end, rather than as an expression of solidarity. Though we are still
bound and dependent upon each other, the purpose of the dependency is not
related to what is in the best interest of our community, but rather what is in the
best interest in furthering a goal for ourselves individually. Thus, as our personal
22


base of knowledge narrows through specialization, we become extremely
dependent upon each other for those things we no longer understand. And, as a
consequence, we also become terribly alienated from one another. Our collective
conscious becomes distorted and weak, if decipherable at all. We are no longer
able to see each other as members of the same community, but rather we see each
other as tools for our own personal survival.
Another German sociologist, Ferdinand Tonnies (1855-1936), like
Durkheim, correlated the division of labor and modernization with a progressive
loss of community. Tonnies warns of a loss of gemeinschaft (the German word
for community), which Anderson & Taylor summarize as, a state characterized
by a sense of fellow feeling, strong personal ties, and sturdy primary group
memberships, along with a sense of personal loyalty to one another (2008:631).
In contrast to gemeinschaft, Tonnies characterizes a gesellschaft, as a society
where organization is characterized by a high division of labor, less prominence
of personal ties, the lack of a sense of community among members of society and
the absence of a feeling of belonging (Anderson & Taylor 2008:631). Tonnies
does not necessarily view the emergence of gesellschaft as the end of
community, but rather recognizes it as the end of community as we knew it.
Tonnies sees this dramatic societal shift as an exciting opportunity to deploy the
tools of applied sociology to help society preserve strong personal ties while
transitioning into this inevitable age of gesellschaft (Cahnman 1976).
Charles Cooley (1864-1929), rather than focusing on changes in society
23


and community, as with the macro sociological approach, focuses on the
individual self a micro approach. Cooley created the concept of the the looking
glass self, in which people's perceptions of themselves are shaped by their social
interaction. The looking glass self provides an explanation for the role of
consciousness and choice in creating community (Ritzer & Goodman 2004:196).
One's own sense of community (or of belonging to one) is defined by how one
thinks about others both inside and outside the community, and what one
perceives others inside or outside the community think of him or her. Cooley
rejected any behavioristic view of human interaction, the view that people
blindly and unconsciously respond to external stimuli (Ritzer & Goodman
2004:196). Rather, Cooley theorized that individuals used cognitive processes to
interpret the interactions between society and self, forming purposeful
relationships and community (Ritzer & Goodman 2004:196).
These theories are related to the present research in several ways. First, the
contrast between the Lake Chapala region of Mexico and that of most major U.S.
cities where many Baby Boomers live is remarkable. In some ways, the
comparison resembles Durkheim's view of mechanical and organic societies, with
Lake Chapala representing a mechanical, rural community in which most
members participate in most of the same activities, and U.S. cities mirroring
organic societies. The activities in the Lake Chapala Society generally appear
concerned with the health and well-being of the community and its members,
such as commitments to local charities, orphanages, and work on environmental
24


issues. And like Tonniess gemeinschaft, Lake Chapala can be characterized as
a place with strong personal ties, stable primary group membership, and personal
loyalty to one another. If one was looking for an opportunity to escape an organic
society, and all of its business and economic trappings, Lake Chapala would
certainly provide a respite from them.
Another important feature for the members of the Lake Chapala Society is
that they perceive a higher level of respect for elders in Lake Chapala than they
do in the United States. One can speculate that Mexican society itself helps
reinforce this perception, as there is a belief that elders in general, no matter what
their national origin, deserve an additional level of respect. Perhaps this is the
remnants of a mechanical society in which elders served an important role as
story tellers and knowledge depositories. One can further speculate that organic
society, computerization, and the mass digitizing of knowledge in the United
States has created an environment in which elders are viewed as less valuable.
Rather than a source of valuable, age accumulated insight, once they stop working
they are perceived as an economic drain on a limited pool of resources (such as
quality health care and Social Security).
Contemporary Theories of Community
Wendell Berry (1992:119), while not a sociologist, defines community as
the commonwealth and common interests, commonly understood, of people
living together in a place and wishing to continue to do so. This definition does
25


much to invoke the notion that communities are primarily about shared ideas and
interests, not necessarily shared space. In Berrys definition people will choose to
participate in a community only after they have established common interests and
ideas with other members. This is compatible with Cooley's perception of the
looking glass self in which people's perceptions are shaped by social interaction
(Ritzer & Goodman 2004:196). These ideas also relate well to W.I. Thomas's
(1931) concept of in-groups and out-groups. For Thomas, we have a favorable
opinion of people in our in-group because we perceive them as being like us,
regardless of their individual characteristics. In the context of community, we
construct a community (or in-group) from shared perceptions and meaning. Once
constructed, this community seems very real and very objective. It becomes a
thing that actually is. And once perceived as an actual thing, it is under constant
threat of extinction. To explain this phenomenon, W.I. Thomas (1931) theorizes a
definition of the situation. In the definition of the situation, Thomas illustrates
how situations (in this case communities) that come to be defined as real,
suddenly have real consequences. Protecting them becomes important. One of the
most efficient ways to protect them is to quickly identify in-groups and out-
groups and create stringent guidelines for new membership in the in-groups, such
as tests of worth and loyalty.
Along similar lines, Startwell (2008) has also expressed views about
community. He says that communities are made by exclusions: by excluding
others or by being excluded by others: usually both (p. 44). This kind of
26


exclusion does not come from physical fences, but from an exclusion of ideas.
Startwell sees communities formed when people come together to celebrate their
own kind of weirdness (2000:49). Della Porta and Diani (1999) reinforce
Startwells views, claiming that collective action cannot occur without a
distinction between us and other. Startwell believes that the place where
community happens in our own culture is at the margins. He defines the margins
as the little spaces where people conceal themselves or confront institutions
(2000:48). He asserts that community and identity are bound up with one another
(Startwell 2000:50). Startwell concludes that communities exist where people
can come face to face, where people can actually know each other and find a way
of life together (2000:48).
Jane Jacobs believes that sociospatial variables can create good
community; that in addition to ideas, good community can springs from specific
spatial variables. She insists that cities thrive when there is a collision of human
diversity, dense populations, and mixed land use. Jacobs also believes that healthy
communities are organic, messy, spontaneous, and serendipitous (Steigerwald
2001:1).
27


CHAPTER 4
STATEMENT OF HYPOTHESES
Conversations with Dr. David Truly and members of the LCS, in addition
to Dr. Truly's (2002) research, suggested that economics was one of the primary
motivations for U.S. Baby Boomers moving to the Lake Chapala community. If
this was true, I was interested in comparing Lake Chapala Baby Boomers with
their U.S. counterparts to see if the two groups were significantly different on
income related variables. This led to my first hypothesis.
Hypothesis 1: Lake Chapala Baby Boomers will have significantly lower
incomes than their counterparts living in the U.S.
The next several hypotheses are derived from the theories reviewed in the
previous chapter, and the literature review in Chapter 2.
Hypothesis 2: Based on the theories of Durkheim, Tonnies, Cooley,
Startwell, and Berry, U.S. Baby Boomers who migrate to Mexico will express
perceptions of losses of community that offered strong social bonds and
perceptions of self-worth.
28


Hypothesis 3: Based on Dr. Truly's (2002) study and my own visit with
members of the Lake Chapala Society, it is hypothesized that characteristics that
represent good community are very important for U.S. Baby Boomers who
migrate to the Lake Chapala Region of Mexico.
Hypothesis 4: Finally, it is hypothesized that, given the characteristics of
the Lake Chapala Society, support will be found for Jane Jacob's hypothesis that
good community can be found in places that are messy, culturally diverse,
creative, and have mixed land.
29


CHAPTER 5
METHODS
Preliminary Research Evaluation
In August of 2009,1 traveled to the Lake Chapala region and met with Dr.
David Truly, a Professor of Geography at Central Connecticut State University. In
2002, Dr. Truly published a paper on international retirement migration and
interviewed residents of Lake Chapala as part of his research. Dr. Truly met me in
Lake Chapala and introduced me to a local non-profit group called the Lake
Chapala Society (LCS). He discussed with some of the LCS membership my
plans for research. LCS members expressed an eagerness to participate in my
upcoming study and provided means of communication to reconnect when the
study began. After I left Lake Chapala, I remained in contact with these residents
and kept them updated on the projects progress. Originally, LCS had agreed to
provide their community center as a place to conduct interviews, focus groups,
and to collect my surveys. After leaving Lake Chapala, I reconnected with Dr.
Truly, who agreed to meet me again in the Lake Chapala region when I returned
and to lend navigational assistance once my study began.
In late 2009 and early 2010, the rates of violent attacks and drug
trafficking related deaths reached unprecedented levels in Mexico (Duran-
Martinez, Hazard & Rios 2010). The escalating drug violence in Mexico forced
the University of Colorado to put a research travel ban in place. This ban
30


eliminated my opportunity to return to Mexico and personally conduct my
research. Consequently, I was forced to reevaluate my thesis research and seek out
alternative opportunities to collect my data. I eventually settled on an online
survey of the members of the Lake Chapala Society.1
Survey Instrument & Sampling
The online survey was divided into four distinct sections and contains
questions related to; 1) Demographic Information, 2) Financial Information, 3)
Community and Civic Engagement, and 4) Alienation. The survey had a total of
76 questions. Survey questions were both multiple choice and Likert scales. A few
multiple choice questions also allowed for open-ended responses in the form of
other.
On Monday, May 24, 2010, an online invitation email was sent to a total
of 1380 persons who had provided email addresses to LCS. LCS data indicated
that 1629 individual members were U.S. residents. Not every U.S. resident
member of the LCS received an invitation to participate in the survey, since not
all of them had provided LCS record keepers with email addresses. The board of
the Lake Chapala Society (LCS) believed that the response rate to the survey
would be higher if they sent out the email invitation on my behalf, which they did.
The board members explained to me that though they kept records detailing the
countries of membership residence, they had no way of separating U.S. citizens
from all others within their email system. Thus, the invitation to participate in the
31


survey was circulated to all members, representing 38 countries. A stipulation was
inserted into the email invitation, asking that only U.S. residents complete the
survey.
This survey was conducted securely online through a secure hyperlink to
the survey that was embedded in the email invitation. Since some of the LCS
membership travels frequently and has limited access to the internet, the survey
was left open for a period of eight weeks. When the eight week period expired, I
removed the secure link and closed the survey. One-hundred-thirty-nine
individuals participated in the online survey, with 112 (80.6%) completing the
entire survey.
Of the 112 people who completed the survey, I removed participants who
did not fall within the Baby Boomer cohort (birth years between 1946 and 1964).
This left me with 44 completed Baby Boomer surveys. It is the data from these 44
respondents from which study statistics were calculated.2
Survey Questions
As earlier noted, my first study purpose was to create a demographic
profile of the Lake Chapala Society Baby Boomers. The demographic variables I
asked about were income, education, race, age, marital status, political
orientation, and length of time as a resident of the Lake Chapala region.
To measure income (Q8), I asked participants to indicate their annual
household income from one of the following categories; Less than $20,000.00,
32


$20,000.00-S29,999.00, $30,000.00 to $39,999.00, $40,000.00-$49,999.00,
$50,000.00-$74,999.00, $75,000.00-$99,999.00, More than $100,000.00,1 don't
know, and I'd prefer not to answer. These answers line up nicely with U.S. Census
data on the income of people 65 and older, which I compare the Chapala Boomers
to later in this paper. These answers do not reflect any U.S. tax bracket grouping
or popular distributions of economic class. However, I asked for very specific
answers on income in a way that would allow me to later combine individual
participants into groups that reflected tax brackets and economic class if the need
arose.
To measure education (Q9), I asked participants to indicate which of the
following options indicated their highest level of education: Some high school, but
no high school diploma. High school diploma/GED, Associates Degree,
Bachelors Degree, Masters Degree, Professional/Doctoral degree, or Not sure.
To measure race (Q6),I asked participants to check the category that
indicated their race. The available categories were Black/African-American,
Asian/Asian-American, Hispanic, Native American, White, I dont know, I'd prefer
not to answer, and Other. These available answers reflect a combination of the
Census Bureauss top answered categories for Race and Ethnicity.
To measure age (Q2), I asked participants to write in the year they were
bom. Asking the year rather than the age is more appropriate for surveys related
to a generational span, as participants with birthdays on the cusp of the generation
can be included and inclusion can be based on birth year, not actual age (as the
33


cohort of Baby Boomers is based on birth year).
To measure marital status (Q5), I asked participants to indicate if they
were Single, Married, Separated, Divorced, Widowed, or Second Marriage.
To measure political orientation, I asked two questions. In (Q10), I asked
participants, which of the following answers best described their political
orientation: Very conservative, Conservative, Moderate, Liberal, Very liberal, I
don't know, or Other. In (Q11), I asked Which of the following do you consider
yourself:n Answer choices were Democrat, Republican, Independent, and I don't
know.
To measure length of time as a resident of the Lake Chapala region, I
asked participants to enter what year they began living in the Lake Chapala
region.
Hypotheses Testing
The first hypothesis of this study was to test whether based on the theories
of Durkheim, Tonnies, Cooley, Startwell, and Berry, Baby Boomers who migrate
to Mexico will express perceptions of losses of community that offered strong
social bonds and perceptions of self-worth and respect. This perception of loss of
community includes Wendell Berry's concerns over the alienation of older people
in the United States by the media as a result of a rapidly growing culture of
consumerism.
To determine the role of good community as a motivator for Baby Boomer
34


out-migration to the Lake Chapala region, I first define variables that are
indicators of good community among Baby Boomers. From my literature review,
classical sociological theory, and contemporary theories on community, I
collected six often referenced measures of good community. These variables are
choice, individual freedom, trust, respect, meaningful participation, and
community dependability. Choice I define as a variety of available community
building activities, none of which participation is mandatory. Individual freedom I
define as the freedom for one to create his or her own community building
activities. Trust I define as high levels of trust between community members.
Respect I define as high levels of respect between community members.
Meaningful participation I define as the availability of community building
activities that are personally meaningful to an individual's philanthropic interests.
Community dependability I define as high levels of dependability among
community members.
I asked participants to rank these six measures of good community in the
Lake Chapala community against the communities they moved from in the United
States specifically asking participants whether the Lake Chapala community
ranks the same, worse, or better on these variables than the U.S. community they
moved from.
To measure the variable choice (Q49), I asked participants to answer the
following question: Compared to where I live/ed in the United States, in the Lake
Chapala Region I have more individual choice about the civic activities I
35


participate in. Available answers were (1) Yes, (2) No, and (3) About the same.
To measure the variable individual freedom (Q50), I asked participants to
answer the following question: Compared to where I live/ed in the United States,
in the Lake Chapala Region I have more individual freedom to create civic
activities for myself and others to participate in. Available answers were (1) Yes,
(2) No, and (3) About the same.
To measure the variable trust (Q58), I asked participants to answer the
following question: Compared to where I live/ed in the United States, in the Lake
Chapala Region there are higher levels of trust among community members.
Available answers were (l) Yes, (2) No, and (3) About the same.
To measure the variable respect (Q64), I asked participants to answer the
following question: Compared to where I live/ed in the United States, in the Lake
Chapala Region elders are respected. Available answers were (1) Yes, (2) No, and
(3) About the same.
To measure the variable meaningful participation (Q51), I asked
participants to answer the following question: Compared to where I live/ed in the
United States, in the Lake Chapala Region there are meaningful opportunities for
me to participate in this community. Available answers were (1) Yes, (2) No, and
(3) About the same.
To measure the variable dependability of the community (Q55), I asked
participants to answer the following question: Compared to where I live/ed in the
United States, in the Lake Chapala Region I have a close knit community I can
36


depend on. Available answers were (1) Yes, (2) No, and (3) About the same.
To evaluate participants' perceptions of media alienation among older
people (Q72, Q73, & Q74), I asked Chapala Boomers if they believed the content
of U.S. based news programming, magazines, or advertising was aimed towards
their generation. Possible answers were (1) Strongly Disagree, (2) Disagree, (3)
Agree, and (4) Strongly Agree. I asked if Chapala Boomers agreed (Q77) that in
the U.S. older people are unfairly stigmatized in the media. Possible answers
were (1) Strongly Disagree, (2) Disagree, (3) Agree, and (4) Strongly Agree. I
asked participants if they agreed with the statement (Q70), in general, U.S.
citizens respect their elders. Possible answers were (1) Strongly Disagree, (2)
Disagree, (3) Agree, and (4) Strongly Agree. I asked (Q76) if in the U.S. too much
emphasis was put on looking and acting young. Possible answers were (I)
Strongly Disagree, (2) Disagree, (3) Agree, and (4) Strongly Agree. Finally, I
asked if participants (Q75) agreed with the statement that in the U.S. age
discrimination affects older people s ability to find meaningful work?'. Possible
answers were (1) Strongly Disagree, (2) Disagree, (3) Agree, and (4) Strongly
Agree.
To test hypothesis 2,1 used annual income (Q8) from my economic profile
and compared that annual income data on U.S. residents 65 and older. I then
perform a chi-squared test to determine any significant difference between the
Chapala Boomers and U.S. retirees living in the United States. To establish that
my sample was actually retired and not working, I ask participants to report how
37


many hours per week they had worked for wages over the last 12 months (Q12).
Possible answers were / do not work for wages, 5 or less hours per week, 5-15
hours per week, 15-30 hours per week, and 30 or more hours per week.
Third, I ask participants their perspective on economics as a motivator for
out-migration to Mexico. I ask participants to answer (1) Yes, (2) No, or (3) Don't
Know to the following statement (Q68): Economic factors were the biggest
motivator in my decision to retire in Mexico. Additionally, I asked participants to
answer (1) Yes, (2) No, or (3) Don't Know to the following statement (Q69): Now
that I live here (Mexico), economic factors remain the most important factors that
keep me in Mexico. Finally (Q39), I asked participants If economic factors were
not an influence on where you lived, indicate your preference. Available answers
were (1) I would prefer to stay in the region, (2) I would prefer to move out of the
region but stay in the country of Mexico, (3) I would prefer to move back to the
United States, and, (4) I do not care where I live.
My fourth hypothesis was derived from Jane Jacob's belief that good
community can be found in places that are messy, have mixed land use, are
culturally diverse, and are creative. To uncover participant's perceptions of
whether or not there was messy mixed land use in the region (Q47), I ask How
would you describe the business and residential areas of the Lake Chapala
Region? I provided a multiple choice response of (1) There is a lot of mixing of
business and housing, (2) There is some mixing of business and housing, and (3)
There are distinct business and housing areas. Further (Q48), I asked participants
38


Is it important to have distinct business and residential areas (i.e. a separation
between the two)? Respondents could answer (1) Yes, (2) No, and (3) Don't
Know. To uncover participant perceptions on the importance of cultural diversity
and creativity, I asked participants (Q44) to rate the general importance of the
presence of Cultural Diversity, Creativity, Vibrancy, and a Culture of Creativity
when deciding on a place to live. Finally, I then asked participants to rank how
well the Lake Chapala region ranked on those different dimensions (Q45).
39


CHAPTER 6
RESULTS
Chapala Baby Boomer Demographic Profile
Using annual income data from the U.S. Census, I compared the reported
annual incomes of U.S. residents 65 and older to the retirement incomes reported
by the Chapala Boomers. I then created a chi-squared test to determine if there
was a significant difference in the income distribution of the Chapala Boomers
when compared to the U.S. retirees. My data do not support the notion that
Chapala Boomers face more dire financial constraints than their U.S.
counterparts. A chi-square test was performed on the null hypotheses that the
income distribution for U.S. retirees as a whole is not different from the
corresponding distribution of Chapala Boomers. The value (X 4=0.0357) was not
significant at the p<.05 level, indicating that the two income distributions are not
significantly different. There is not a significant relationship between group
membership (Chapala Boomers and U.S. Residents 65 and Older) and annual
income. It appears that being a Chapala Boomer does not mean that you are any
more or less wealthy than your U.S. counterparts. If economics are a motivator for
out-migration to the Lake Chapala region of Mexico, it is not because of
remarkably low income.
40


Income: Looking at Figure 1 we can see that the income distribution for
Chapala Boomers at the lower and higher income levels largely mirrors the
financial situation of U.S. retired persons. As noted earlier, chi-squared analysis
comparing the Chapala Boomers to U.S. retirees revealed that there is not a
statistically significant difference in distribution of income between the two
groups.
Income Distribution of US 65 and Older and Chapala
Boomers
s
a
1
I
1
M
i
E
<3
45 00%
40.00%
35.00%
30.00%
25.00%
20.00%
15.00%
10.00%
5.00%
0.00%

1
ML
.
US 65 and older n=25,270
Lake Chapala Boomers n=44
Household Income
Figure 1: Annual Income Distribution of Chapala Boomers versus U.S. Retirees.
* Comparative data retrieved from
http://www.census.gOv/population/www/socdemo/age/general-age.html#bb.
41


Education: Figure 2 shows that compared to their U.S. counterparts,
Chapala Boomers are far more educated than the general population, obtaining
more Bachelors, Graduate, and Professional degrees. Because higher degrees of
education usually translate into higher salaries, this factor can help explain
Chapala Boomers slightly higher number of middle and upper-middle class
residents.
Distribution of Education Level of US Boomers and
Chapala Boomers
90.0%
| 80.0%
!j 70.0%
S 60.0%
$ 50.0%
c 40.0%
J 30.0%
{ -* 20X1%
£ 10.0%
0.0%

t
V
w

SomeHS HSgrade/GED Some college Bachelor*
Education Level
US Boomers
Chapala
Boomers
Figure 2: Educational Distribution. Chapala Boomers v. U.S. Boomers.
Comparative data retrieved from
http://www.census.gOv/population/www/socdemo/age/general-age.html#bb
42


Race: Per the literature review, the Baby Boomer generation is less racially
diverse than the U.S. population as a whole. Figure 3 shows that racial diversity is
even less common within the Chapala Boomers, whose membership is over 90%
White.
ft

3
i
i
3
i
e
a

0
1

2
i
White Blade/African Asian Other Hispanic Native
American American
Race
US population
Chapala Boomers
Figure 3: Distribution of Race. Chapala Boomers v. U.S. Population.
*Comparative data retrieved from
http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/2010_census/cb 11 -
cnl25.html
43


Age: Figure 4 highlights the age distribution of Chapala Boomers. The
Mean age of the group is 61.1 years. The Median age of members is 61.5. As can
be seen in Figure 4, due to the average age of retirement, older members of the
Chapala Boomers, 62-65, make up most of our cohort, although the second largest
age group is in the 57-60 age group. The information in Figure 4 shows that there
are large numbers of Chapala Boomers who are early retirees, if we use the age of
65 as the age when most people in the U.S. retire. It is worth noting the large
number of 50 something retirees. Future research may want to consider the
relationship between the Lake Chapala region and those opting for early
retirement.
9
8
7
6
*5
i
I
3
2
1
0
54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65
Age
Figure 4: Age Distribution of Chapala Boomers
44


Marital Status: Figure 5 shows the distribution of marital status among
Chapala Boomers. Nineteen of our cohort reported being single while twenty-five
reported being married. From my survey I combined the responses married and
second marriage into one category called Married. I did this to get a better idea
of the ratio in which participants traveled to Chapala alone versus with a spouse.
A finding interesting to note is that with regard to sex, this cohort consists of 14
males and 30 females, highlighting that Baby Boomer females are more likely to
arrive in Lake Chapala single than Baby Boomer males.
Marital Status of Chapala Boomers
Separated, 2%
n = 44
Single
Separated
Divorced
Widowed
Married
Widowed, 5%
Figure 5: Distribution of Chapala Boomers' Marital Status
45


Political Values
Very conservative
Conservative
Moderate
Liberal
Very liberal
n = 44
Figure 6: Distribution of Chapala Boomers' Political Values
Political Orientation: I used traditional linear scales (i.e. Very Liberal to
Very Conservative and Democrat to Republican) when asking respondents to
identify their political affiliations and values. Figure 6 shows that 3% of my
survey participants reported being very conservative, 8% conservative, 23%
moderate, 28% liberal, and 48% very liberal. Figure 7 shows that 7 % reported
being Republicans. Fifty-six percent reported being Democrats, while 31 %
reported an Independent party affiliation.
46


Party Affiliation of Chapala Boomers
Republican
Independent
Other
Democrat
n = 44
Figure 7: Chapala Boomers' Political Party Affiliation
Length of Time Living in the Lake Chapala Region: For our 44
participants, the average Chapala Boomer has lived in the region 3.9 years. The
median length of residence is 3 years.
The data show that Baby Boomers who migrate to Mexico express greater
perceptions of good community, worth, and self-respect. Specifically, Figure 8
shows that most Chapala Boomers perceive the Lake Chapala Region as being
better than the U.S. on all six measures of good community. These measures,
defined earlier include Choice, Individual Freedom, Trust, Respect, Meaningful
Participation, and Dependability of the Group.
47


Chapala Boomers' Comparison of US to Lake Chapala on Measures of
Community
n = 44
The same or t>ettr No ____
Compared to where i
live/ed in the United
States, in the Lake
Chapata Rif ion I have
Compared to where I Generaty speaking,
live/ed in the United would you say that most
States; in the Lake people in the Lake
Chapala R^bn I have Chapala Region can be
more individual choice more individual freedomtrufied or that you cant
about the dvic activities to create civic activities be too careful in dealing
I participate in. for myself and others to with people?
participate in.
Survey Questions
Compared to where I Compared to where I Compared to where I
live/ed in the United live/ed in the United live/ed in the United
States* in the Lake Stacey in the Lake States* in the Lake
Chapala Reg bn ciders Chapala Regbn there Chapala Region I have a
are respected. are meaningful ebse knit community I
opportunities for me to can depend on.
participate in this
community.
Figure 8: Percentage of Baby Boomers Response to Six Measures of Good
Community
Moving from left to right in Figure 8, about 75% of Chapala Boomers
believe the Lake Chapala region provides the same or more individual choice in
civic activities when compared to the U.S. About 70% of Chapala Boomers
believe the Lake Chapala region provides the same or more individual freedom to
create civic activities when compared to the U.S. About 72% of Chapala Boomers
believe people in the Lake Chapala region can be trusted the same or more than
people in the U.S. One-hundred percent of those surveyed believed that elders
were respected the same or more than in Lake Chapala than in the U.S. About
92% of those surveyed believed that there were the same or more opportunities
for meaningful community participation in Lake Chapala than in the U.S. And
finally, about 78% of respondents believed the dependability of the community
48


was the same of better in Lake Chapala than in the U.S. Overall, it is clear that a
large percentage of Baby Boomers living in Lake Chapala perceive that the area
meets or exceeds their expectations for a good community when compared to the
places they in the United States.
Overall, findings in Figure 9 support Berry's assertion that a substantial
number of Baby Boomers see their generation as being negatively stigmatized by
the media, commanding little societal respect because of age, and face age
discrimination in the workplace.
Chapala Boomers' Feelings Regarding US Attitudes Towards Older People
Agree
Disagree
#70 m general, U S. #72 m the United
citizens respecttheir States most
elders. advertising is aimed
towards my
generation.
#73 m the Unted #74 m the United
States most news States most
programming is magazines are
aimed towards my aimed towards my
generation. generation.
Survey Questions
#75 In the United
States age
discrimination
affects older
peopie'sability to
find meaningful
work.
#76 m the United
States too much
emphasis is put on
looking and acting
young.
77 mthe United
State solder people
are unfairly
stigmatized in the
media.
Figure 9: Chapala Boomers Perceptions of Alienation and Stigmatization
Working left to right in Figure 9, we see that about 65% of respondents
disagreed with the statement that in the U.S., citizens respected their elders. About
85% disagreed that advertising in the U.S. was aimed towards their generation.
About 75% disagreed that news programming was aimed towards their
49


generation. About 92% disagreed that most magazines were aimed towards their
generation. About 90% agreed that age discrimination affects older people's
ability to find meaningful work. About 92% believed that in the United States, too
much emphasis is put on looking and acting young. And finally, feelings on
whether or not old people are unfairly stigmatized in the media were close to split,
with about 52% believing they were and about 48% believing they were not.
Figure 10 shows that when asked plainly if economic factors were the
biggest motivator in their decisions to retire in Mexico (Q68), 46% responded yes,
while 51% responded no. This shows that even initially, though only slightly,
Chapala Boomers were attracted to the area by something more than economics.
When asked (Q69) now that you live in Chapala, is economics the most important
factor keeping you in Mexico, respondents answered that economics played even
less of a role, with only 41% indicating that it was the primary reason they stayed
in Mexico, while 54% said it was not. When asked (Q39) if economic factors were
not an influence on where you lived, 68% of Chapala boomers said they would
stay in the area, with only 20% reporting that they would return to the U.S.
Overall, these findings indicate that Baby Boomers who leave the U.S. and live in
Mexico when they retire, would prefer to remain there, if economically possible.
50


10054
9054
8054
Economic Factors on Decision to Live in Mexico.

II C
7054
|
|6C54
1
o 5054
B
3
g' 4054
U.
3054
2054
1054
054
Mexico. 6854.
Economic factors ware the biff ast Now that I live here, economic If economic factors war* not an
motiv ator in my decision to retire factors remain the most important influence on where you lived,
in Mexico. factors that keep me in Mexico. indicate your preference:
Survey Question
Figure 10: Economics as a Motivator for Retiring in Mexico
To evaluate Jane Jacobs hypothesis that strong community is organic,
serendipitous, messy, and requires human diversity and mixed land use, I inserted
four specific questions into the survey. These questions were asked to measure
Chapala Boomers agreement with her hypothesis and to test for the prominence
of these measures within the Lake Chapala community. When I asked Chapala
Boomers if cultural diversity, creativity, culture of creativity, and a vibrant
community were important factors to consider when picking a place to leave
(Q44), a majority of respondents (70% or more) believed they were, with cultural
diversity ranked the most important factor. When asked how well the Lake
51


Chapala region ranked on each of those factors (Q45), a majority of respondents
reported that Lake Chapala was good or very good on these measures (57% or
better), with a culture of creativity ranking the highest. When asked if Chapala
Boomers perceived a lot of mixing of business and housing in the Lake Chapala
region (Q47), 71% answered yes. None of the Chapala Boomers believed the
Lake Chapala region had distinct business and residential areas (Q47). When
asked if Chapala Boomers thought that a distinct separation between business and
residential districts was important (Q48), only 22% of Chapala Boomers said it
was.
52


Figure 11 illustrates how well participants perceive the Lake Chapala
region ranks among the following four dimensions: Cultural Diversity, Creativity,
Culture of Creativity, and Vibrancy. Figure 11 also compares how participants
ranked Lake Chapala against dimensions they thought were important when
choosing a place to live.
OVery Important/:: Very Good
Olmportant/=Good
ODo not consider/3Average
ONot import an t/~Poor
Figure 11: Jacob's Dimensions for Good Community
The data show that respondents believe the Lake Chapala region provides
features in line with features they believe are important when choosing a place to
j
live. In the context of this study, Jacob's variables of Cultural Diversity,
Creativity, Culture of Creativity, and Vibrancy have been positively identified,
and ranked favorably, within a community which measures well on good
community. Based on the data, Jacob's variables deserve consideration when
examining or creating research related to good community. It is possible that the
Importance of Dimensions vs Chapala Ratings
n = 44
Importance of Dimensions When
Choosing a Place to Live
* Rating of Lake Chapala on Given
Dimensions
Culturally Diverse Creative
Culture of
Creativity
Dimensions
53


presence of these variables has the potential to improve people's perceptions of
good community.
54


CHAPTER 7
DISCUSSION
A number of factors led to this research. First, I grew up in a rural area
that, as best as a 20th century community can, reflected Durkheim and Tonnies'
descriptions of a community before the industrial revolution. There existed
generations of homesteaders, one high school, one DMV, one Post Office, one 4th
of July parade, and many opportunities to stay in touch or connect with people in
the community. As romantic as it may sound to some, there were often complaints
that living there was boring, which probably led to a popular second complaint
that everybody knew everyone elses business. Additionally, the community was
rather isolated, with little in the way of new people coming in or out. The status
quo most times was relied on as fact. And, at the time, most people in my
community believed the United States was an exceptional country, unrivaled by
any other. There were few, if any, of Granovetter's (1973) peripheral weak ties to
inject new information and create challenges or debate. As a consequence, I, like
most in my community, viewed the world outside the United States as dangerous
and uneducated.
In 2004, after a long hiatus, I returned to college. I completed my 4-year
degree with a BA in Behavioral Science, and began a Master's degree in
sociology.4 During graduate school, I was able to spend a great deal more time on
subjects that interested me. I was also able to spend a lot of time talking one-on-
55


one with my professors. And I participated in, and, presented at, sociology
conferences, both locally and nationally. I was beginning to feel brave and starting
to draw some of my own conclusion. One conclusion was that I had spent most of
my life holding false beliefs about the world outside the United States. It was
during this time that I stumbled upon two books; The World is Flat by Thomas
Friedman (2005) and The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris (2007).
These books were like a thunderbolt. Both described the convergence of
technology and outsourcing and provided vivid narratives of entrepreneurs like
me, building businesses around the globe. Suddenly the world outside the U.S. did
not seem like such a scary place. The entrepreneur inside me wanted to know
more about the business opportunities the rest of the world presented. I started
outsourcing some of my projects overseas. The sociologist inside me took
advantage of the business transactions as opportunities to question my business
partners about what life was like where they lived, what was important to them,
and to discover as much as I could about the world.
One question I had for myself was whether or not my rather isolated, rural
upbringing had somehow hampered my ability to see the world as it actually was.
In some non-malicious ways I believe it did. By this time in my life I had one son,
with another on the way. I started to explore the possibility of some long-term
international sabbaticals for my family to give my sons an intimate international
perspective of the world. This desire led me to begin exploring the scope and
scale of U.S. expatriate enclaves abroad. Early in my internet search I found the
56


Lake Chapala Society (LCS), an expatriate run non-profit in the Lake Chapala
Region of Mexico. This led me to visit Lake Chapala, and contributed to my
decision to study the LCS to determine what motivates U.S. Baby Boomers to
leave the U.S. and live in Mexico.
A review of the classical sociological theories and other contemporary
theories related to communities, as well as a literature review, led to four
hypotheses. First, that Lake Chapala Baby Boomers will have significantly lower
incomes than their counterparts in the U.S. Second, that based on the theories of
Durkheim, Tonnies, Cooley, Startwell, and Berry, U.S. Baby Boomers who
migrate to Mexico will express perceptions of losses of community that offered
strong social bonds and perceptions of self-worth. Third, that based on Dr. Truly's
(2002) study and my own visit with members of the Lake Chapala Society, it is
hypothesized that characteristics that represent good community are very
important for U.S. Baby Boomers to migrate to the Lake Chapala Region of
Mexico. And finally, it is hypothesized that, given the characteristics of the Lake
Chapala Society, support will be found for Jane Jacob's hypothesis that good
community can be found in places that are messy, culturally diverse, creative, and
have mixed land.
My analysis, based on responses from 44 online surveys completed by
Lake Chapala Baby Boomers, reveals that there was no significant difference
between the annual income of Lake Chapala Boomers and U.S. retirees. While
frequency distribution showed that almost half had migrated to Mexico for
57


economic reasons, more importantly, Chapala Baby Boomers perceived the Lake
Chapala community as offering more dimensions of good community, as
described by theorists in Chapter 3, then U.S. cities where they had previously
lived. Overall, it appears that economics may be an important motivator of Baby
Boomers who migrate to the Lake Chapala region, but good community is what
will prevent them from returning to the United States.
Because U.S. Baby Boomers are facing tough economic circumstances
that may affect how and when they retire, policy makers should keep in mind that
international retirement is becoming an increasingly attractive option. The
ramifications of a growing exodus of retirees could include a reduction in
volunteerism and mentoring, a pool traditionally made up of retired persons. Poor
age dense community planning could also result in poor mental health among
aging baby boomers, putting further strain on the U.S. healthcare system. And,
because Baby Boomers control a large portion of the wealth within the United
States, a transfer of those dollars into foreign economies could have severe
consequences for the economy of the United States. What this study suggests is
that economics may be an important motivator for Baby Boomers to leave the
U.S., and that, like Neill James (founder of the LCS), once they find communities
where their needs can be better served they will decide to remain permanently
outside the United States.
58


LIMITATIONS
The primary limitation of this study revolves around the make-up of the
study group itself. The Lake Chapala Society is not merely a collection of
individual U.S. Baby Boomer retirees in Mexico, but rather a conscious collective
of like-minded people who share similar values and goals. Their membership in
the group is in itself an overwhelming indicator of their personal desires to
participate in some kind of community. They are not a representative sample of
Baby Boomers in general, but rather a convenience sample from which this pilot
study could be conducted.
With regard to my small survey sample, during the time of my survey,
there was a LCS board election and a changing of authority in the organization.
The former LCS board members tried to be as accommodating as possible during
this time, but I did face changes in gatekeepers who had to be reeducated about
my project and about prior LCS approvals. During this time it would have been
beneficial to have had a follow-up email invitation sent out regarding my survey
to boost participant numbers, but coordinating that effort proved difficult. Though
my participant numbers do represent close to 10% of all U.S. membership,
participants only include members of the LCS who had both access to email and
who thought participating in my research had value. As Dr. Truly (2002) noted in
his research, a large portion of people who live in the Lake Chapala region prefer
to remain isolated. Isolation is one of the attractions of the area. Thus, my sample
is not representative of the entire LCS U.S. membership base.
59


The final limitation of this study regards my previously expressed
disappointment in not being able to hold open ended interviews. This would have
provided me an opportunity to gain trust within the organization and probe deeper
into some of the memberships contrasting views of community. I believe it would
have also dramatically increased my number of survey participants, as I would
have had personal access to them and would have been able to include people
who do not use email or the internet.
60


CHAPTER 8
CONCLUSIONS
Spurred by the first wave of baby boomer retirees, the portion of the U.S.
population who will be retired is growing quickly, and this trend is expected to
last for the next 20 years. The traditional model of retirement care may not be
suitable for this new retirement cohort. New retirees are facing greater financial
uncertainty than their parents. The financial challenges are significant and include
lack of pensions, low retirement account savings, and reduced or delayed Social
Security benefits.
This research, one of the few academic studies that explore reasons U.S.
retirees migrate to other countries, demonstrates that international retirement
migration is an option for Baby Boomers forced to find ways to extend their
retirement dollars. The Lake Chapala Society retirement community in Mexico
has been successfully sustained for over 50 years. This success is in part due to
the affordability of Mexico for U.S. retirees, and also because of the attractiveness
of the community itself. Current Lake Chapala Baby Boomer community
members report high marks for all variables of good community, ranking them the
same or better than the communities they moved from in the United States. While
economics play an important role in motivating migration to Mexico, the data
suggest that indicators of good community are also very important motivators,
and appear to be more important when making a decision to remain outside the
61


United States. The measures of good community that members of the LCS both
value and believe are present in Lake Chapala are Choice, Individual Freedom,
Trust, Respect, Meaningful Participation, Dependability of the Group, Cultural
Diversity, Creativity, a Culture of Creativity, and Vibrancy. Community planners
in the U.S. and in foreign retirement destinations should be careful to consider
both economics and these measures of good community as they construct the
physical space and marketing invitations they hope will attract Baby Boomer
retirees and their dollars.
FUTURE RESEARCH CONSIDERATIONS
Future researchers should consider more diverse communities than the one
covered in this study, when trying to determine what motivates U.S. retirees to
migrate to other countries. The LCS community in this study is hardly
representative of all communities where U.S. expatriate retirees are found.
I would like to add a word of caution to future researchers studying
expatriates in Mexico. A sizable number of my participants expressed serious
concerns over question 52 of my survey. The question reads, Compared to where I
live/ed in the United States, in the Lake Chapala region I have more influence
over regional political affairs. Participants could answers Yes, No, or About the
Same. My questions was meant to explore the impact expatriate groups felt they
had on the poor environmental conditions of Lake Chapala itself. Some of the
groups literature and affiliated associations talked about working with
62


government to clean up the lake. And as I reported in footnote 1, Mexican
government officials frequently visit the society grounds to address numerous
questions the membership has. I did not make this context clear. One participant
sent an email to me that was a good summary of the other participants concerns:
Why did you need to ask so much about political affiliations and involvement in
politics, civic organizations, etc? Here in Mexico, non-residents (your target
group) are forbidden (bolding study participants, not mine) to engage in political
activity. We can be booted out of the country for doing so. Having those
questions in there made me very suspicious of the intentions of the survey. I
believe the word influence in my question is what set off alarm bells. The question
may have been better received if it centered on participation with local
government, not influence over.
However, as this research represents one of the few social science
academic studies related to the motivations of U.S. retirees to move to other
countries, I encourage other research in this area. This is particularly timely, given
the current and growing stresses placed on seniors to extend their retirement
dollars, and to find communities that afford a sense of social ties and feelings of
self-worth.
63


NOTES
1. Lake Chapala itself is Mexicos largest body of fresh water. The lake is located
just 30 miles south of the city of Guadalajara, in the state of Jalisco. After Mexico
City, Guadalajara is Mexicos second largest city, with an area population of about
5.5 million persons. Lake Chapala came to international attention in the late 19th
century. President Diaz conceptualized Lake Chapala as Mexicos international
tourist destination (Truly 2002:266). The arrival of the rail lines quickly filled the
lake region with North American and European visitors. But in 1910 the Mexican
Revolution burst Lake Chapalas first tourism bubble (Burton 2008). The area
would not see a significant return of tourists until the 1940s. During Lake
Chapalas revival the area became a haven for writers, painters, poets, and
photographers. It received some of the worlds must renowned authors, including
Ernest Hemmingway, D.H. Lawrence, and George Bernard Shaw. In addition to
its international visitors, Lake Chapala remained the weekend getaway spot for
the middle and upper-class residents of the City of Guadalajara.
The Lake Chapala region currently consists of three main villages
including Jocotepec on the northwest comer of the lake and Ajijic and Chapala
further east. The year round permanent population is approximately 40,000
residents. Of this 40,000 between 5,000 to 6,000 are English speaking expatriates.
Seasonal winter influxes elevate this number to approximately 12,000. In 1996
the American Consulate reported this number was as high as 40,000, though local
residents believe this number is a bit exaggerated (Truly 2002:262).
64


The Lake Chapala Society was formed on January 15, 1955 with thirty-
one members and a mission of helping out expatriates new to the area. Two of the
most prominent founding members were Brig. General John Paul Ratay and a
woman named Neill James.
Ratay believed a society was needed to assists both the locals and the
influx of military personal arriving on the GI bill. During my visit to the LCS, I
was told my some members that GIs enrolled in local universities because they
were far cheaper than U.S. universities and that the excess money from the GI bill
provided a comfortable living for soldiers that was not available in the United
States.
Neill James was a contemporary of Amelia Earhart and considered a
pioneering woman of travel and journalism. James was bom in Grenada,
Mississippi in 1885, and it has been said that no one could ever keep her quiet
(LCS 2009). She loved to travel. At one point she lived with and documented the
lives of the Ainu people of northern Japan. In 1941 she was climbing the Volcano
Paricutin when it erupted, badly injuring her. She was taken to the village Ajijic
on the Lake Chapala shore to rest and recover. During a year long period of
recovery she fell in love with the people and the geography of the region (LCS
2009). As her desire to travel subsided, she established Ajijic as her permanent
address and transformed the area into an art center of international focus. Neill
founded the first library in Chapala. She taught cooking, developed water
purification systems, and installed electricity and telephone lines. Neill was
65


always considered kind and caring. In fact she used a large inheritance from her
father to send the most talented local children on through the university system.
During the 1970s, Lake Chapala faced a serious threat to its tourism in the
form of industrial pollution. Lake Chapala Society members banded together in
multiple efforts to clean the lake up. Lake Chapala is the main water source for
both Mexico City and Guadalajara. The main influx of water to the lake comes
from the Rio Lerma River. Large industrial and agricultural complexes up stream
dumped many pollutants and toxins into the Rio Lerma, including mercury,
fertilizers, and lead. These toxins eventually settled in the water and shores of
Lake Chapala. By 2002 Mexicos National Water Commission (CNA) reported
that only 8% of the water in Lake Chapala was considered acceptable for
drinking. The remaining 92% was either moderately or highly polluted (Amigos
del Lago 2009). In 2008 the Governor of Jalisco said he would finally be able to
equip the area to sanitize 97 percent of the wastewater flowing into the lake by the
end of 2009 (Chapala Club 2008). Local expatriate organizations have been
prominent in working toward a solution to the pollution problems. Groups such as
Amigos del Lago and the Chapala Club have organized local and international
interests to put pressure on the Mexican government to clean up this national
treasure. Amigos del Lago (2009) writes that their mission is to strengthen
relationships among the lake communities to promote and preserve the ecology of
Lake Chapala and its surroundings and to cultivate the ecological awareness of
the residents through education and environmentally sustainable projects.
66


Over the years the society continued to grow and Neills savings dwindled.
Eventually she struck a deal with the growing societys members, agreeing to let
them use her property and buildings as long as they cared for her needs and
allowed her stay in her home until she died. Additionally, she promised to turn
over her home (the remaining piece of the estate) to the society upon her death.
The society agreed and when she died in 1994 Neill made good on her promise -
turning over the entire property to the Lake Chapala Society (LCSW 2009).
Today the Lake Chapala Society has over known 3700 members (LCS
2009). According to the Lake Chapala Societys website, the society has three
current missions. The first is to help the local community with an emphasis on
children and education. Second, the society assists expatriates as they transition to
Mexican living. Third, the society provides social, health, and educational
services for expatriates (LCSW 2009).According to their membership directory
(2009), the Lake Chapala Society offers or sponsors over 40 monthly programs.
Some of them include the Lakeside Theater which has been bringing English
language performances to the area for over 45 years. There is also the Music
Appreciation Society which has been bringing international entertainment to the
area for over 21 years. Other groups include the Culinary Art Society of Ajijic, the
Masons, the Shriners, an Organic Farm Club, Spanish language group, a writing
group, and yoga. Glancing at the Saturday schedule you will see a childrens art
program, an Art Fundraiser, Qi Gong, and pottery class.
67


2. Because this study included human subjects and was international in scope,
extensive documentation and approval were required by IRB. Those approval
documents are available in the appendix.
3. For the values in Figure 11,1 assigned numeric weights (very important=4,
important=3, do not consider=2, not important=l). I did the same for their rating
of Lake Chapala (very good=4, good=3, average=2, poor=l). I omitted any
respondents who chose dont know because they were unable to provide
comparative data for analysis. I then calculated a weighted average for each
dimension. I used those weighted averages to compare the importance expressed
to the rating given to Lake Chapala.
4. Initially, I chose the Behavioral Science major over Sociology as a major
because the Behavioral Science major allowed me to take classes related to
sociology, psychology, and anthropology. However, the program required students
put a major emphasis on one area. I chose sociology.
68


Pleas* carefotly md the connt form on the foSowing page. To participate in this survey you must rsad and sign the
stectronie form. Instructions for completing tha form are available within the form.
69


1. You are being asked to participate in a research study. This form provides you with
information about the study. Please read the information below. You may email or phone in
questions about anything you dont understand before deciding whether or not to take
part
Why is this study being done?
This study is being conducted to determine the extent that community and regional
Identity motivate UJ. retirees to settle in Mexico. You are being asked to be in this
research study because you are a member of the Lake Chapala Society and your contact
information was available in the Societys 2009 Membership Directory. Up to 200 people
wM participate in the study.
What happens if I join this study?
If you join the study, you will be asked to complete a survey online through a secure
website. I estimate that the survey will take between 30 and 48 minutes to complete.
What are the possible discomforts or risks?
There are no anticipated risks associated with participating in this research beyond those
experienced in every day life. You may experience some psychological discomfort from
reflecting on your current retirement situation as it compares to your expectations of
earlier years.
What are the possible benefits of the study?
The information I get from this study may help uncover important attitudes and beliefs
about community ameng U.S. retirees. You might loam more nbout yourself by
participating in this study. You might gain a better understanding of your attitudes related
te community. Addttlonally, there may be no personal benefit at all from taking part in this
Will I be paid for being in the study? WM I have to pay for anything?
There is no charge for participation in this study. There to no compensation paid for
participating in this study. Information taken during this study may be used for research
and development purposes not related to this study. Yon wiN not have property rights or
ownership interest In products or data which may be derived from your samples or
participation.
to my participation voluntary?
70


Taking part in this study is voluntary. You havs tho right to choosa not to taka part in this
study. If you choosa to taka part, you hava tha right to stop at any tima. If you rafusa or
dacida to withdraw latar, you will net lose any benefits or rights to which you are entitled.
Who da I call if I hava questions?
Tha researcher carrying out this study is Travis Luther. You may ask him any questions
you have. If you have questions, you may eafl Travis Luther at (303) 618-0621 or email him
at travis.luthaiCmaii.ucdanvar.edu.
You may hava questions about your rights as someone in this study. You can call Travis
Luther with questions. You can also call the Human Subject Research Committee (HSRC).
You can call them at 303-318-2732.
Who wM see my research information?
We will do everything we can to keep your records a secret. It cannot be guaranteed.
Both the records that identify you and the consent form signed by you may be looked at
by others. They are:
S Federal agencies that monitor human subject research
S Human Subject Research Committee
§ The group doing the study
S Regulatory officials from the institution where the research is being conducted who
want to make sure the research is safe
The results from the research may be shared at a meeting. The results from the research
may be in published articles. Your name will be kept private when information is
presented.
Agreement te be in this studyt
I have read this paper about the study. I understand the possible risks and benefits of this
study. I know that being in this study is voluntary. I choose to be in this study I will get a
copy of this consent form.
You may now indicate your consent to participate in this study by entering your name in
the answer box below. Once you give your consent you will move into the next portion of
the survey.
71


rr? ^ \v-
K' 3. D emographii c Information rift?;:':
iv 'J
The questions in this section ask you basic demographic information such as age. race, and sex. This section also
includes questions about your socio-economic status and political orientations. You may skip any question you are not
comfortable answering.
2. la what yaar were you bom?
3. In what state is your permanent U3. residence?
4. Please indicate your gender:

|^J Female
[ | Tranagendered
| | Other
| | Prefer not to answer
5. Please indicate your marital status:
| | Single
| | Married
| | Separated
| | Divorced
| | Widowed
| | Second Marriage
6. Please indicate your race. You may select more than one category:
| | Black/African-American
|^J AaianMsiarvAmerican
| | Hispanic
| | Native American
| | White
| | I don't knew
| | rd prefer not to enswer
| | Other
72


7. Please indicate tha socio-economic category of your ho us* hold:
| | Upper Oats
| | Upper-Middto Clan
| | Middle Class
| | lower Middto Class
| [ Lowar Class
0 Poor
| | OOier (plaasa specify)
8. Plaasa indicate tha following Incoma category that bast dascribas your total household
income for 2009:
[I * | I *20.000 *20.90*
| | *30,000 to *30,000
FI *40.000 to *49.999
*50.000 474.909
| | 375.000 409,090
| [ Mora than *100.000
| | I dont know
| | Id prater not to answer
9. Plaasa indicate your highest level of education:
| | Soma high school, but no high school diploma
| | High school dlplomalQCO
| | Associates degree
| | Bachelors degree
| | Masters degree
| | Profetsional/Ooctoral degree
[~~| Not sure
73


10. Picas* choos* the tarm that would host describe your political orientation:
|^J Very comarvalNe
| | Conaarvaive
| | Modarara
| | Literal
| | Vary literal
| | Idonlknow
0*ar (plena needy)
11. Which of the following do you consider yourself:
|^J Oamocm
WWean
|~~[ Indapandent
| 11 tent know
Odwr (pieaee needy)
12. Arc you currently employed of have you dene any work for pay in the last year?
| | I do not work tor wage*
| [ for ton temper woek
| | (-1 Shorn par weak
| | 1S-30 hours par woo*
| | M or more horn par week
13. In what year did you begin living in the Lake Chapala region?
74


14. How many total months par yoar do you livo in tho Lake Chapala region?

10
o

75


Ths questions in this nsxt section rsiats to your rsgionsi and international travel history as both a child and an adult
18. As a child, how many days out of tho year did you usually travel within the United
States (perhaps for vacation or parents occupation)?
r........... ........... "i
18. As a child, how many days out of the year did you usually travel outside the United
States (perhaps for vacation or parents occupation)?
17. As an adult, before retirement, on average how many days out of the year did you
travel internationally?
18. What percentage of this international travel was for work?
19. Today, how many days per year do you travel for leisure in the United States?
20. Today, how many days per year do you travel for leisure internationally?
76


5. Family Background
'v A'r''... -
und
,-ri? ^ki&i
The questions in this Motion rsiats to your family background, spsdflcaiy the years before you turned 18.
21. Plaaso indicate the socioeconomic category of the household
you grew up in:
| | Upper Close
| | Uppw-Mdd* Ctam
| | Midale Close
| | Lower MkMt Oats
| | lower CtaM
n ***
Other (piooeo specify)
22. How would you describe the political environment of the
household you grew up in?
J^j Very coooorvstivs
| | ConserwpWve

I | Vryt
| | I don't know
Modprpte
liberal
I liberal
Other (pteaee specity)
23. For your Father indicate his highest level of education:
| | Some high school, but no high school diploma
| | High school diploma/OED
| l Associate I degree
[ | Bachelors degree
[ [ Masters degree
| | ProfesstonalfDoctoral degree
| | Not sure
77


24. For your mother, please Indicate her highest level of education:
| | Sam* high school. but no high school diploma
| | High school diptoma/GED
| | Assodal** dagrae
| 1 Sachalcr* dagra*
| | Masters dagrse
| | Protesskmal/Ooctoral dagra*
| | Not aura
78


Th questions in this taction relate to tha civic activitiaa you participate in white in Mexico.
23. Pleas* indicate which organizations or programs, if any, you wars involved with in
Mexico in the last twelve months. If you were involved in organizations or programs that
are not listed here, pleas* describe them hi "other."
n Academic or Protassional Society
| | Civic Group Working on Regional leaue
| | Community Service Organization
| | Outreach Organization
| | Civil liberties Organization (e.g.. ACIU, etc.)
Volunteer Community Service Tripa (eg. Trip to Haiti to aid in earthquake reflet)
| | Religious Organizations
| | Government or Political Organization
| | Media Organization,
Performing Arta (theater, music. etc.)
| | Sports Team or Recreational Organization
Other (please specify)
26. In total, how many hours were you involved with these organizations or programs over
the last twelve months?
None
10 hours or lass
11-2S hours
2M0 hours
1-120 hours
More than 120 hours
79


27. What proportion of your tint# in those activities was for the purpose of societal and
community improvement?
ah
Soma
| | Non*
Othar (piaasa ipactfy)
28. Of all of the civic organizations you are a member of, what portion of your time was
spent in a leadership role?
o
oe
| | Soma
| | Nona
Olhac (ptaaaa apacify)
29. How would you describe your level of community involvement in Mexico?
| | Vary invotvad
| | Modaratety Invotvad
| | Somawhat invotvad
| | Not vary invotvad
| | I dont know
Qatar (piaaaa apaedy)
80


30. Please indicate which types of the folio wing activities you were involved in in Mexico
over the last twelve months. If you were involved in civic or political activities that ars not
listed here, please describe them in other."
| | Participeted In community service
| | Worked or volunteered tor a political campaign
| | Partidpatad in a protest. march or damonalration
| | Halpad to rail* money tor a charitable eauaa
| | Participated in online poMieal diacuaalon* or viattad a poMicaly oriantad website
(~~1 Contacted or viailad a Mexican pubic official (at any laval of government) to aak tor aaaiatance or to expreaa my opinion
| | Contacted a newapapar. magazine, radio, or televiaion program to expreaa my opinion on an iaaue or candidate
| | Attended a meeting of town or city council, school board or neighborhood association
| | Volunteered through a social or non-profit organization
| | Helped to raise awareness around a particular social iaaue
[ | Helped to organize snorts aimed at solving environmental issues
| | Helped to promote peUdeal involvement or assisted with voter registration
Other (please specify)
31. How many hours worn you involved with this activity in tha last twelve months?
| | None
| | 10 hours or less
| | 11-25 hots*
| [ 20 -SO hours
| | <1 -120 hours
| | Mora than 120 hours
32. For the previous activities (question #30), what portion of your time warn spent in a
leadership role?
am
I [ Stoat
| | Some
none
81


33. Please rat# the following factors for thoir influonco on your involvement in civic activities in Mexico Vary Strong kiflironc* Strong In throne* Som* Infliwnc* No Inlkronc*
ProeonM Inter** o o 0 o
Community lnt*r**t 0 o 0 o
Friend o o 0 0
Spouae 0 o 0 o
Ratigiou* Inter**! o o 0 o
Job Requirement o o o o
82


The questions in this (action raiata to financing ratiramant and how your ratiremant looks compared to how you imagined
it in previous years.
34. Twenty or thirty years ago, or when you first began to plan your retirement, did you
imagine that you would be able to comfortably fund your own retirement?
no
I | I did not many have a ratiramant plan at that time.
35. Do you feel you have as much funding for retirement as you had originally expected?
** ratiramant is undarrundad. money is a concern.
| | My ratiramant funding is in ine with where I thought tt would be whan I began ratiremant planning.
| | l have more ratiramant funds than I anticipated whan I started ratiramant planning.
36. Twenty or thirty years ago, or when you first began to plan your retirement, where did
you imagine your retirement income would primarily come from?
Pension
Q 401 (k)
Social Security
Personal Savings
(^) Sale of Business
Property investments (Home or Commercial)
Personal Investments
Other (please specify)
0
83


37. Today whoro does your primary rotiramant incoma coma from?
Pension
(^) Social Security
Personal Savings
Sala ol Business
Property Investments (Home or Commercial)
Personal Investments
Other (please specify)
84


The questions in this section ratals to your feelings for and conn action with tha Lake Chapala region.
38. CImom tha answer that bast raprasants your sansa of personal idantity with the Lake
Chapala region.
Strong
Q Moderate
Q tvw
Non*
39. K economic factors ware not an influence on where you lived, indicate your preference:
I would polar to My In region
I would prefer to move out of the region but My in tho country of Mexico
(^) I would prefer to more bock to the UnMod Statos
o I do not cere where I ire
40. Which aspects of tha Lake Chapala Region would you bo most likely to taka action to
preserve? Yoe may select more than one answer.
| | Size of population
| | Phytic* environment
| | Local community
| | Local culture
| | Locady owned butineeset
Touriam
Other (ptoeee ipeedy)
41. Which of the following items de you believe are a threat to the Lake Chapala region?
You may choose more than one answer.
| | Tourttm
| | Land deretoment
| [ Pototion
| ] Crime
| | Growing population
| | Corporal* bueineaa development
85


42. Picas* select any of the following activities you have done in the last four weeks:
| | read a regional or local newspaper
| | (stoned to a regional or local radio station
| [ watched a regional or local TV station's programming
| j viewed a regional website on the internet
43. Please select any of the following activities you have done in the last four weeks:
| | stopped at a locally owned buamaas
| [ visited a local arts or theatre production
visited an organization dealing with hobbies, sports, or recreation
| | visited an organization dealng with local charity, welfare, or that provided local voluntary opportunities
86






The question* in this ssetion rotate to business in the Lake Chapala Region.
46. Would Expanded tourism bo positive for the Lake Chapala Region?
o-
o
Don't know
47. How would you describe the business and residential areas of the Lake Chapala
Region? For example, are there distinct business zones and housing zones that sure
separated by law or government or is the location of housing and business mixed (i.e.
homes and businesses commonly exist right next to each other)?
Thor* to lot of mining or busmass and housing
Osomo mixing of busiwaas and housing
Than ara distinct buskiaas arsas and houaing anas
48. Is It important to have distinct business and residential areas (i.e. a separation between
the two)?
Ov
o
Don't Know
89


I
Ths question* in this section will ask you to evaluate how some activities in the Lake Chapala Region compare to
activities in the United States.
49. Compared to where I live/ed in the United States, in the Lake Chapala Region i have
more individual choice about the civic activities I participate in.
OY**
O m
About tho tom*
50. Compared to where I live/ed in the United States, in the Lake Chapala Region i have
more individual freedom to create civic activities for myself and others to participate in.
o
O m
About tha tamo
81. Compared to where I live/ed in the United States, in the Lake Chapala Region there are
meaningful opportunities for me to participate in this community.
OY"
0"
About tboumo
52. Compared to where I live/ed in the United States, in the Lake Chapala Region I have
more influence over regional political affairs.
O Y
ONo
About thasama
53. Compared to where i live/ed in the United States, in the Lake Chapala Region I have
more influence over regional environmental affairs.
OY**
o
About tho sama
90


84. Compared to where I liva/ed in the United States, in the Lake Chapala Region my
philanthropic efforts go further.
OY"
O n
About th same
55. Compared to where I Ih/e/ed in the United States, in the Lake Chapala Region I have a
close knit community I can depend on.
o
o
o
Yes
No
About me same
56. Compared to where I llve/ed in the United States, in the Lake Chapala Region some
good can actually be accomplished when working by myself and with others.
O"
o
About me same
57. Compared to where I live/ed in the United States, in the Lake Chapala Region there is
less of an emphasis on materialism.
0
o
About the same
56. Compared to where I Uve/ed in the United States, in the Lake Chapala Region there are
higher levels of trust among members of my community.
Oy
o
About me same
59. Compared to where I live/ed in the United States, in the Lake Chapala Region it is a lot
easier to get around to the places I need to go in this community.
Oy
o
About the same
91