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tural employment relations to a purely cash and increasingly impersonal basis, reciprocal obligations or personal relations that once might have tied workers to employers were no longer at stake. Thus, the chief obstacles to integration and assimilation into the industrial sector have probably been the difficulties of adapting to the rhythm and discipline of the factory, not the ties to the traditional sector.

On the other hand, it is noteworthy that the economic forces pushing these workers out of agriculture were not as strong as one might expect. Those who left agriculture were not forced to do so to escape a marginal existence. Indeed, our sample workers appear to have been among the elite in the agricultural wage labor force; for over two thirds of the 291 men said they had been employed throughout the year in the last farm job held—a proportion almost 2.5 times greater than that prevailing for the agricultural labor force as a whole in 1952. In other words, these were among the most employable of the agricultural workers, not those marginal to that work force.

Further evidence that dire economic need was not the force compelling these men to abandon agriculture is found in their specific reasons for quitting (Table 5). Only 15 percent of the group said they left primarily because of unemployment or irregularity of employment. The hope for greater earnings in industry or, conversely, the loss of hope for an improvement in the future outlook for agricultural workers was of much greater significance. Eliminating multiple responses within these two categories, 70 percent of the workers gave one of these two reasons as either a primary or supplementary reason for leaving. The

TABLE 5. REASONS Given by 291 Male WorkERS FOR HAVING Quit AgricultURE Workers reporting reason as supplementary

Reasons given

Hope of higher earnings
Dislike of agricultural work

No future in agriculture
Irregularity of employment

Desire to live in the city

No reason given

Workers reporting
reason as primary
Number Percent

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emphasis on hope of an improvement in economic status again suggests a rational economic approach to entering the industrial labor market. The men with agricultural experience appear to have become integrated into factory employment without serious resistance. Their anticipated liking of factory work was consistently greater than that expressed by workers who had no experience in agriculture, although only the differences in the Ponce area were statistically significant. At the time of the study only 6 percent of the 291 men indicated that they liked factory work less than agricultural work, while 90 percent said they liked it better. Their job histories after they left agriculture show that the break was a permanent one for most of them. Only a small minority indicated that they had either returned to the farm after they had left it without intentions of returning, or continued to cultivate land to the present (Table 6).


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As a further test of the commitment of these workers to industrial employment, those who had expressed a greater liking for factory work than for farm work were asked under what conditions they would return to agriculture. As can be seen from Table 7, 60 percent of the 274 men in this group indicated that they would not return under any condition; 73 men or 27 percent said they would return if they could own farms. In order to correct for diverse expectations of income from farm ownership and to test preferences at the margin, the 73 men were asked whether they would return to agriculture even if they would be able to earn no more than they were currently making; 51 affirmed that they would still do so, whereas the other 22 would return only if land ownership would yield a larger income.


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The men willing to return to agriculture as landowners at their current incomes were distinguishable from the other former agricultural workers in several respects. The 51 men were a significantly older group (most were over 40) and they were currently at the upper end of the income distribution of former agricultural workers. They also reported relatively longer years of agricultural employment, generally over 11 years. Presumably many of these men were not looking upon a return to agriculture as an active career. Rather, a return to the land was probably viewed with a measure of nostalgia or as a sort of partial retirement wherein the bulk of the labor would be performed by hired hands. A further observation about the organization of agricultural production and its possible influence on landowning attitudes may be made. A distribution of these men by the crop produced in the last agricultural employment reveals significant differences in the relative frequency of current interest in return. The greatest interest in return at current income levels was found not among the former sugar and plantation workers, but among the former workers on minor fruit and vegetable crops which are cultivated largely on small independent holdings. This is a reasonable finding. The former sugar workers constituted a real rural proletariat possessing very narrow skills and experience. It is likely that they would be quite incapable of independent cultivation. The versatile workers formerly employed on small productive units might more reasonably be expected to aspire to proprietary positions. While the agricultural background of the older and better paid

workers appeared to be associated with their attitudes toward farm ownership, this relationship was not significant for other groups. There was a general disinterest in farm ownership among the younger workers and particularly the lower-wage workers. One might expect that at low industrial wages the traditional agricultural sector would seem attractive or, conversely, that the adjustment to industrial discipline would not be adequately compensated. However, even if the lowest industrial wage rates did not compare favorably with some agricultural wage rates, annual incomes probably did. Moreover, the heavy preference of the lowest-wage workers for industrial employment may be grounded in the realistic belief that industry holds greater promise for future increases in income than it is possible to foresee in agriculture. It would appear that land ownership, in itself, is viewed as only a limited source of social prestige and certainly as no effective substitute for income. Such a finding in a society that has traditionally associated status with landownership, and in which wealth has been accumulated in that form, should be of considerable interest.

The men who originally stated that they would not return to agriculture under any condition generally persisted in this view under further questioning. When asked whether they would return to agriculture if they could be assured of maintaining their current level of earnings, only about a fourth of them said they would do so. However, the difference between the incomes of this subgroup and of the workers who persisted in their refusal to consider a return to agriculture was not statistically significant.

Within the group of men with agricultural experience, then, about 42 percent either expressed a greater liking for agriculture than for industrial employment or volunteered an interest in returning to agriculture under some specific income or other status condition, whereas 57 percent initially said they would return under no condition. An examination of the characteristics of these two groups of workers showed that there were no significant differences in their levels of education, levels of weekly income, years of urban residence or factory experience, or levels of skill in their current employment. Only two variables were significantly associated with interest in returning to agriculture. The Chi-square test showed an association with age significant at the 2 percent level. The greatest deviations of actual from expected frequencies were found at the two extremities of the age distribution; the men under 23 years of age took a decidedly dim view of returning to agriculture, while those over 40 were most receptive.

Length of agricultural work experience showed an association significant at the 10 percent level; those who had spent 11 or more years in agriculture showed the greatest interest in returning. The factors that were operative in the workers' interest in returning to agriculture under conditions of landownership may also be reflected in this larger group of former agricultural workers.

While receptiveness to the idea of return was fairly widespread among the sample workers, this should not be interpreted as indicative of an intention or of active planning to return. At another point in the interview the sample workers were asked what kind of work they would like to be doing five years hence. Among the men with previous agricultural experience only 6 percent of those who indicated any occupational preference chose to return to agriculture, while 60 percent indicated that they would like to be employed in factory work. Thus, even those who might reconsider agricultural employment, given certain income and property conditions, do not seem to be actively hoping or planning to return to agriculture. Shifts from agriculture to industrial employment appear to be followed by a commitment to permanent participation in the industrial labor market more often than not. Permanence of Involvement in Industrial Employment

The conclusion just reported for the 291 former agricultural workers also seems to hold for the total sample of male workers. We found considerable evidence that the bulk of the 539 men regarded their involvement in the industrial labor market as permanent. For example, they did not often report subsequent nonindustrial jobs once they had entered industrial employment. Among the men with complete job histories, only 17 percent reported nonindustrial employment following their first factory jobs; of those whose histories were incomplete, 72 percent showed no nonindustrial employment at least since 1945. Their occupational aspirations also indicated that they expected to continue being employed in factories. When asked what kind of work they would like to be doing five years hence, over two thirds of those men who indicated a positive choice for some employment chose factory work, as can be seen in Table 8. The most frequently indicated alternative for men was self-employment, either as artisans or as small merchants.

The level of education of the respondents in the Ponce and coastal areas does not appear to make a significant difference in the choice between factory and nonfactory work. In San Juan, there is a significant

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