Food For Thought
ANALYSIS OF LODGES BY THE AGE OF THEIR BRETHREN
Recently figures came into my possession for the relative ages of brethren in 9 evening lodges. As one who likes to analyse figures I decided to spend an hour or so looking at the figures that I received.
The first task was to have similar type Lodges, so choosing 9 evening lodges, by removing any that were not of that ilk i.e. dinner or daytime. This gave an homogenous sample to work with.
The first table produced was the actual numbers at 7 age groups in the lodges, which were represented by the letters A to K, to retain ananimoty.
The figures are very supportive to the statement that we are an organisation of old people. Although the figures for some Lodges have a higher number in the two older ranges than others, many of the smaller lodges have a lot better ratio of younger(figuratively speaking) to older.
However, just providing numbers gives an incorrect view of the situation. It is much clearer when one looks at the percentage of the lodge that fits in each age bracket.
Lodges should look at how their Lodge membership stacks up against average. Total numbers in the Lodge does not guarantee survival, and the health of a long lasting lodge will only in part rely on the age range of their brethren.
Whereas many sing the praises of having many more young masons, there is in fact a happy medium, and this is very difficult to quantify.
Firstly the good news is that Lodges H and K have over 10% of their brethren under 30 years of age. However an even stronger lodge is Lodge A, where a staggering 39% are under the age of 40, whereas Lodge K makes 24% and H only 20%. In reporting on those with the highest percentage in the younger age range one should also look at the figures for the 'older' lodges - Lodge C at 3% and B at 4% have only a tenth of the percentage of members in the two youngest brackets that Lodge A has.
Similarly taking the figures at the other end of the age range very worrying statistics are immediately apparent 4 Lodges having over 40% of brethren over the age of 70. Lodge B 47%,Lodge D 48%, F 42% and by far the highest being Lodge C at a staggering 59% (41% are over 80 years old).
The problem with Lodges who have a large number over 70 years old is that the attrition rate from natural causes must be much higher. Looking at New Zealand statistics, the average male life expectancy is 79 years. Therefore if a brother is over 80 he is already above average in years. It is not untoward to say that a Lodge will be little different to the nation as a whole and so loose the balancing number under 80 year olds to maintain the average. That is to say that those of longevity will be balanced by those without (such as the writer).
Another area of membership drain, is those brethren who leave the Lodge. Most of the reasons are different for younger masons than the older ones.
For Young members it is pressure of work, job relocation, growing family, do not enjoy it, boredom, have other things to do and the cringe factor.
For the Old and Eldest the major factors are Death, physically unable to continue, deafness, and unable to travel (at night).
There are two major reasons that are applicable to every age group - no longer enjoying the Craft, and the costs involved.
Not all figures are negative or positive. Many of the above reasons can be mitigated by Lodge actions, for instance Lodge C has kept their elder members, whereas others may have lost theirs. Therefore what may look initially as a problem is the result of successful retention, but it may equally well be allied with the negative of a poor recruitment of candidates. It is a warning to those to look to statistics as a guide only and to be thorough in investigating every detail of the operation of a lodge.
The line graph below is published here to show the total number of brethren in each Lodge as one adds each age group. Therefore the numbers on the graph are the cumulative totals of the brethren up to each age grouping.
For instance the graph shows that Lodge A has 22 members under the age of 69, whereas Lodge B has 24.
The bar chart below gives a visual indication of the percentage of each lodge in each age group. For instance Lodge H & K have over 10% of their brethren under 30, and C & D have none.