Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Agricultural Extension

Major Professor

Robert S. Dotson

Committee Members

Cecil E. Carter Jr., George W. Weigers


The purpose of this study was to determine the consumer credit situation among home demonstration club members in Madison County, Tennessee, as a basis for planning educational programs. Home demonstra-tion club members were divided into high, middle, and low income groups and comparing for the purposes of (1) characterizing them; (2) deter-mining which recommended consumer credit practices they were using; and (3) identifying some of the factors that influenced them to adopt or reject the practices. Seventy Negro home demonstration club members were randomly selected for personal interviews from a population of 160 in Madison County. Interviews were conducted during the summer of 1969. Main com-parisons were between high and low income respondents in an effort to identify generalizable group differences. Findings related to the total group interviewed also were studied. The home demonstration club members in this study included 80 percent farm and 20 percent rural non-farm residents. The majorities of both high and low income respondents were farm residents. More than four-fifths of all respondents were homeowners. A larger percent of the high income (87) owned homes than the low income (65). The vast majority of middle income (95 percent) respondents owned their homes. Thirty-five percent of all interviewees worked outside of the home including one-half (50 percent) of the high income and slightly more than one-fifth (22 percent) of the low income. The major occupation of all interviewees' (43 percent) husbands was wage earner. A smaller percent (17) of them were full-time farmers. Most husbands of high income respondents (71 percent) were wage earners but full-time farmer was the major occupation of those in the low income (17 percent) group. One-half of those interviewed had completed more than the eighth grade. This was true for a larger percent of the high income (64) than the low income (26 percent). None of those in the low income group had completed more than the tenth grade as compared to more than one-half of the high income. Slightly more than one-half (51 percent) of the respondents were 55 or more years of age. Only one-tenth (10 percent) of them were under 35 years of age. Low income respondents as a group were older than the high income. All interviewees were using about one-third of the 34 recommended consumer credit practices. High income respondents were closer to practice adoption than were the low income respondents on 29 of the 34 recommended consumer credit practices studied. Low income respondents were closer to practice adoption on the following three practices: (1) "examined the contract to know exactly what was purchased when goods and/or services were obtained on credit," (2) "Made the down payment as large as possible in most cases when buying goods and/or services on credit," and (3) "kept credit purchases and loans to a limited number of places." With regard to factors influencing practice adoption, almost two-thirds (66 percent) of all interviewees felt that homemakers did not have the knowledge needed to adopt the recommended consumer credit practices. High and low income groups were similar in this respect. Almost nine-tenths (88 percent) of all interviewees did not seek the advice of anyone concerning the best place to buy on credit. Almost all of the high income (96 percent) and more than three-fourths of the low income (78 percent) were in this category. Home demonstration club meetings (53 percent), television (29 percent), and the daily newspaper (24 percent) were the major sources of information used by all respondents to secure information on consumer credit. A larger percent of the high income respondents than of the low received information through mass media. Low income respondents de-pended almost equally on television and home demonstration club meetings as their major source of information. The majority (94 percent) of all interviewees were interested in attending one or more meetings on consumer credit. Based on the findings of this study it was recommended that a more effective and efficient program on consumer credit be conducted for the home demonstration club members in Madison County, Tennessee. Implications of the findings for program emphasis were also included in the study.

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