Employers Forum on Disability

Disabled people worldwide

Disability affects 15-20% of every country's population: There are at least 650 million people with disabilities worldwide. [i] Conflict and poverty continue to cause high rates of disability in the less developed world. The incidence of disability is increasing in the industrialised world as populations age.

Every country calculates the number of disabled people in their country differently. Cultural differences, different disability definitions and different methods of data collection mean that in many cases estimates are significantly lower than ILO estimates. Many more people will benefit from workplace adjustments and adaptations to services than official figures suggest. Companies which take a disability confident approach will improve access for all their stakeholders.

Disability in Europe

  • The total number of the population with a long-standing health problem or a disability (LSHPD) in 25 European countries is estimated to account for more than 45 million citizens. [ii]
  • These European Union statistics only refer to the population that is 16 to 64 years old. [iii]
  • This means that one in six persons (15.7%) of the working age population (aged 16 to 64) has either a long-standing health problem or a disability. [iv]
  • One European in four declares having a member of their family affected by a disability. [v]
  • At 32.2% Finland has the highest percentage prevalence of long standing disability in the European Union. [vi]
  • The Netherlands has the third highest prevalence of disability in the European Union with 25.4% of their population. [vii]
  • 6.6% of the Italian population are disabled, one of the lowest figures in the European Union. [viii]
  • 5.8% of the Romanian population have a long term disability. [ix]
  • There are over 10 million disabled people in Russia. Approximately 700,000 of these are children and young adults up to the age of 18.[x]
  • The United Kingdom has the second highest prevalence of disability with 27.2% of the population having a long-standing health problem or disability. [xi]

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