Mental Retardation: Its Social Context and Social Consequences

By Bernard Farber | Go to book overview

4
Variations in the Prevalence of Mental Retardation

The previous chapter dealt with the general prevalence of the mentally retarded in society. But the mentally retarded are not distributed at random throughout the population; instead, certain social characteristics are associated with variations in the prevalence of retardation. This chapter will describe the relationship between population characteristics and mental retardation.

For several generations the controversy over hereditary versus environmental influences on mental retardation has remained alive in academic circles. Although data on the relationship between mental retardation and social characteristics of the population cannot resolve this controversy, they may provide leads that will ultimately prove fruitful. Factors to be examined in this chapter include age and sex of the retarded, community differences, social class variations and intelligence, differential fertility, and differential death rates.


Age and the Prevalence of Mental Retardation

Age is a crucial factor in prevalence studies of mental retardation, since one of the major problems in these studies is case-finding. Those periods in an individual's life when he has most contact with

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