The Number of People with Disabilities Worldwide


Disabled people worldwide

Key Facts

  • More than 1 in 4 of today's 20-year-olds will become disabled before retirement.
  • The average time to claim long-term disability is 34.6 months.
  • Only about 9 percent of disability is caused by accidents.
  • About 91 percent of disability is caused by disease.
  • Disorders and diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue are the main cause of disability.

Disability affects 15-20% of every country's population: There are at least 650 million people with disabilities worldwide. 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.
  • These European Union statistics only refer to the population that is 16 to 64 years old.
  • 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.
  • One European in four declares having a member of their family affected by a disability.
  • At 32.2% Finland has the highest percentage prevalence of long standing disability in the European Union.
  • The Netherlands has the third highest prevalence of disability in the European Union with 25.4% of their population.
  • 6.6% of the Italian population are disabled, one of the lowest figures in the European Union.
  • 5.8% of the Romanian population have a long term disability.
  • 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.
  • The United Kingdom has the second highest prevalence of disability with 27.2% of the population having a long-standing health problem or disability.

Disability in Africa

  • It is estimated that in 2005 there were 1.6 million disabled people in Cameroon.
  • The disabled population of Ethiopia accounts for 7.6% of the overall population.
  • The 1989 Kenya Population Census estimated that 0.7% of the 21.4 million population were disabled. This is regarded as an underestimation.
  • In Malawi, the 1983 Disability Survey revealed 190,000 people as disabled, which was 2.9% of the population. According to World Health Organisation estimates the figure in 2005 was closer to 1 million people with disability.
  • 10% of the population are estimated to be disabled in Mali.
  • In 2005 there were approximately 190,000 disabled people, or 9.9% of the population, in Mozambique.
  • 269,680 people of a total 7.8 million are estimated to be disabled in Rwanda. This amounts to 3.5% of the population.
  • It is estimated that Tanzania has a disabled population of more than 3 million.
  • In Uganda, the disabled population in 1991 was 190,345.
  • A total number of about 2%, or 218,421, of the Zimbabwean population were estimated to be disabled in 1997.

Disability in Asia

  • The disabled population of Afghanistan varies between 4 and 10% of the total.
  • 2.4% of the Cambodian population are said to be disabled.
  • In India is estimated that 60 million people are disabled.
  • Indonesia is said to have a disabled population of 1% of the total.
  • Of the 22 milion disabled people in Indonesia, less than 1% are employed.
  • Indonesian law states that companies must allocate at least 1% of their workforce to disabled people. Failure to do so results in significant monetary fines.
  • In Lao 8% of the population are estimated to be disabled.
  • Approximately 7% of the total Pakistani population are disabled.
  • In the Philippines the disabled population figure accounts for an estimated 1.23% of the population.
  • In Nepal 7-10% of the population are disabled.

Disability in Australasia

  • Almost four million Australians or 20% of the population reported a disability in 2003.
  • In 1997 statistics showed that about 20% of the New Zealand population experiences a long-term condition or health problem.
  • 44% of disabled adults in NewZealand are in employment in comparison to 74% of people without disabilities.

Disability in North America

  • In 2002 roughly 51.2 million or 18% of Americans stated they had some form of disability; for 32.5 million of them the disability was severe.
  • Canadian population estimates from 2001 stated that 3.9 million people were disabled. This represents approximately one in eight Canadians as having a disability.

Disability in South America

  • In 1994 it was estimated that the disabled population in Guatemala was 59,841, or 0.72% of the total population.

Worldwide Aging Populations

  • 16.7% of the American population were aged 60 and over in 2005. This is projected to be 26.4% by 2050.
  • In 2005, the percentage of Chinese people aged 60 and over was 10.9%. By 2050, this figure is expected to rise to 31.0%.
  • 21.1% of the French population were aged 60 and over in 2005. This is thought to rise to 33.0% by 2050.
  • German people aged 60 and over accounted for 25.1% of the population in 2005. This is expected to rise to 35% by 2050.
  • Indian people aged 60 and over accounted for 7.9% of the population in 2005. This is expected to rise to 20.75 by 2050.
  • In 2005, the percentage of Japanese people aged 60 and over was 26.3%. By 2050, this figure is expected to rise to 41.7%.
  • Russian people aged 60 and over accounted for 17.1% of the population in 2005. This is expected to rise to 31.1% by 2005.
  • In the UK, 21.2% of the population were aged 60 and over in 2005. This figure is predicted to be 29.4% in 2050.

Financial Security for People with Disabilities Worldwide

Worldwide, there are different levels of financial protection for people with disabilities; generally speaking, many people receive insufficient assistance from their respective authorities. People with disabilities and their families may suffer severe economic challenges as a result of this lack of support. It frequently makes the problems they already face worse.

Disability in Europe

The level of financial stability enjoyed by those with disabilities in Europe is frequently used as a complete yardstick for international norms. Many European nations have put in place social welfare programs that offer people with disabilities various kinds of financial aid, healthcare, and social services. Through accessible public infrastructure and job opportunities, these systems seek to guarantee a particular standard of living and promote inclusion. Nevertheless, there may still be differences among the region's various nations.

Disability in Africa

With few governmental safeguards, securing financial security for people with disabilities continues to be a major concern across Africa. Economic and infrastructure problems plague many African nations, which frequently result in shoddy support systems for those with disabilities. It is vital for both national and international efforts to overcome these inequities because this lack of support can lead to higher levels of poverty and exclusion.

Disability in North America

In North America, particularly in the USA, programs like "The Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability programs" exist. Moreover there are alternative options like loans such as payday loans for SSDI recipients. While the United States has established certain safety nets for disabled individuals, these programs might not always cover all financial needs. Thus it leads people to seek alternative methods to meet their financial obligations. The use of payday loans by SSDI recipients highlights the challenges they face in accessing traditional forms of credit.

Disability in Asia

Disability-related financial security varies across Asia, reflecting various economic and social factors that influence the amount of state-backed aid. There are strong support systems in place in certain Asian nations that offer financial aid, job training, and inclusive education for people with disabilities. However, in other areas, a lack of resources and social stigmas may make it difficult to build reliable support systems. The improvement of financial stability for those with disabilities in Asia necessitates a combination of regulatory changes, public education initiatives, and cross-border cooperation.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, worldwide disability statistics reveal the varied levels of financial security provided for people with disabilities. While Europe often sets the standard with comprehensive welfare systems, financial protection in Africa remains inadequate due to economic challenges. In North America, the USA offers assistance through programs like "The Social Security and Supplemental Security Income," but alternative solutions like payday loans are explored. Across Asia, financial security varies, with some nations offering robust support, while others face barriers. Bridging these gaps requires global collaboration, policy reforms, and increased awareness of the financial challenges faced by people with disabilities.

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