in which people
Research looks at Branson area's retirement trends
Missouri ranks fifth in the country in its proportion of people over the age 65. Because of that, Missouri retirement trends are a kind of bellwether for the country.
To assess retirement trends, University of Missouri-Columbia faculty and extension specialists teamed up to conduct a five-year interdisciplinary study. The county program director in Taney County, Sherron Hancock, a consumer and family economics regional specialist, and Ronald Phillips, state environmental design specialist at MU, conducted the study in response to a 1988 needs assessment for extension in Taney County Extension, home of Branson, Missouri.
Research findings have been presented to citizen groups in Taney County, the Branson and Forsyth Chambers of Commerce, the City of Branson, at regional, state, national and international geronto-logical and design conferences to the benefit of researchers and citizens interested in retirement issues in a recreationally-rich environmental setting.
"This study provided us with a thorough, systematic profile of who these retirees were and in what activities they engaged during their retirement years," Phillips said. The project's goal was to identify those environmental attributes that support and respond to the changing conditions retirement evokes. The study also looked at personal characteristics associated with successful adjustments to retirement.
For example, the study looked at why retirees were attracted to Taney County. What were their retirement motivations and assessments? In what type of housing did they live? What did they think about Taney County activities, health care, and demography.
Information gleaned from these issues was used to assist individuals extend their personal independence during their retirement years, thereby enhancing community economic and social vitality.
By gaining an understanding of the rapid increase in retirement migration occurring in southwest Missouri, the researchers hoped to gain a greater understanding of the nature of successful retirement patterns in general.
The study started in fall of 1988, when interviews were conducted with 307 retirees 55 years of age and older who resided in Taney County as permanent residents at least six months of the year. A second interview wave was conducted in the fall of 1990, adding 120 new respondents and reinterviewing 150 of the 1988 respondents. A final wave was conducted in the fall of 1993, among all those retirees previously interviewed. Approximately 800 surveys have been conducted.
The findings from the research project are being used in a variety of ways, including: research conferences; local social, civic and educational groups; and among MU graduate students. Identifying additional uses of the findings from this research project are ongoing.
The study is truly interdisciplinary, taking many partners under its umbrella. Those include: