An ageing population has contributed to the rise in the
number of disabled people in New Zealand, which last year
rose to over one million - almost a quarter of the
Statistics New Zealand today released the latest numbers for
their 2013 Disability Survey.
The survey showed 24 per cent of the population - or 1.1
million people - identified as disabled. This has increased
from 20 per cent in 2001.
Statistics NZ labour market and household statistics manager
Diane Ramsay said the proportion of people aged 65 and over
"This group has a higher likelihood of being disabled than
younger adults or children."
Last year, 14.3 per cent of the total population were 65 and
over, compared to 12 per cent in 2002.
Other factors identified by Stats NZ include that people may
be more willing to report their limitations, as public
perception of disability changes.
Survey methods may also be improving to capture more cases.
In the 2013 survey, people aged over 65 were far more likely
to be disabled (59 per cent) than adults under 65 (21 per
cent) and children under 15 (11 per cent).
The most common type of disability among adults was physical.
Of those children who had a disability, more than half - 53
per cent - had a learning disability.
The most common cause of child disabilities was a condition
that existed at birth. For adults, it was disease or illness.
More than half of all disabled people - 53 per cent - had
more than one disability.
Maori had an above average disability rate at 26 per cent,
despite having a younger average age than the rest the
population. In contrast, the disability rate for Pacific
people was 19 per cent, below the average.
Taranaki had a disproportionate level of disabled people (30
per cent of the population), followed by Northland (29 per
cent), and Bay of Plenty and Manawatu-Wanganui (both 27 per
Auckland had 19 per cent.
Statistics NZ defines a disability as "an impairment that has
a long-term, limiting effect on a person's ability to carry
out day-to-day activities".
Long-term is defined as six months or longer.
- By Nicholas McBride of the Greymouth Star