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The drift hypothesis, also known as the geographic drift hypothesis or social drift, has been proposed to explain the elevated rates of mental health disorder found in low-income populations, one of the more enduring findings in the field of psychiatric epidemiology. In 1939, Robert Faris and Warren Dunham documented high rates of serious mental health disorder, especially schizophrenia, in low-income inner-city areas, and substantially lower rates in wealthier communities. Many since then have proposed that such disparities result from the residential movement of persons with serious mental health disorders from higher income communities into low-income areas, particularly inner-city neighborhoods. Advocates of social selection, particularly the geographic drift hypothesis, contend that mental health disorder is primarily an individual condition that first develops as a result of ...

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