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2006 Disability Survey
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  10 October 2007
Commentary

Background

This report presents the key results from the 2006 Disability Survey. The survey provides information on children and adults living in households and adults living in residential facilities.

The information in this Hot Off The Press and the Table Builder tables focus mainly on the prevalence and nature of disability. The 2006 Disability Survey also collected information on barriers that people with disability encountered in their everyday life, including current and unmet needs for services and assistance, employment, transport, education, accommodation and special equipment. Information is also available on the characteristics of people with and without disability including their educational qualifications, labour force status, income and household and family circumstances. Further information about the survey is available on the Statistics New Zealand website, www.stats.govt.nz.

All figures given in the commentary and tables have been rounded and discrepancies may occur between sums of component items and totals. All percentages have been calculated from unrounded figures.

Note that there is no separate Tables section in this Hot Off The Press.

Who has a disability?

In 2006, an estimated 660,300 New Zealanders reported a disability, representing 17 percent of the total population. This figure is significantly lower than the rates reported in the two previous surveys in 1996 and 2001 (20 percent). The apparent decline is evident across all age groups, but is more marked in the older age groups. Statistics NZ has conducted a thorough quality assurance process and the results have been determined as meeting adequate quality standards. No specific contributing factors to the change in the disability rate could be isolated.

The apparent decline in the disability rate is likely to be due to a combination of factors relating to the way the 2006 survey was conducted, people's perceptions of disability, as well as possible real world change. Apart from the apparent decline in the disability rate, general patterns in the results of the 2006 survey are largely consistent with the previous surveys. Statistics NZ considers that the results of the 2006 survey provide a suitable description of disability patterns for the current period, but cautions users about making strong inferences from apparent trends between 2001 and 2006, and to exercise care in focusing on specific disability levels. More information about the apparent disparity is contained in the Technical notes.

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Percentage of people with disability, 1996, 2001 and 2006

Age group (years)
0-14 15-44 45-64 65+ Total
1996 11% 12% 25% 52% 20%
2001 11% 13% 25% 54% 20%
2006 10% 9% 20% 45% 17%

In 2006, more than eight out of 10 people with disability (539,200 people) were adults living in households. Five percent of disabled were adults living in residential facilities (31,100 adults) while 14 percent were children aged under 15 years living in households (90,000 children).

The percentage of people with disability increased with age and 45 percent of adults aged 65 years and over had a disability. One-third of people with disability were in this age group

Disability status by age group, 2006

Age group (years)
0-14 15-44 45-64 65+ Total
Disabled 90,000 141,500 208,500 220,300 660,300
Not disabled 775,100 1,448,100 831,300 273,900 3,328,400
Total 865,100 1,589,600 1,039,800 494,200 3,988,600

Note: Figures have been rounded and discrepancies may occur between sums of component items and totals.

An estimated 332,600 females and 327,700 males had disability. There were more males than females under 65 years with disability, with the biggest difference being for children, where boys accounted for 59 percent in this age group. There were more women aged 65 years and over and women with disability accounted for 57 percent of disabled in this age group. This is partly due to the greater number of women in this age group, especially in the older ages where the rate of disability is very high.

Overall, 16 percent of females and 17 percent of males had a disability. Males had a slightly higher rate of disability in the age groups under 65 years, while females had a higher rate in the age group 65 years and over.

Nature of disability

Children (0–14 years)

Disability types for children in 2006 are shown in the following graph. An estimated 5 percent of children had special education needs (41,000 children or 46 percent of children with disability) and this was the most common disability type for children. This category includes children who received special education support because of long-term conditions or health problems; children who had an Individual Education Programme (IEP) or Individual Programme (IP) because of learning or developmental difficulties; and children with learning difficulties such as dyslexia, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Four percent of children (35,000 children, or 39 percent of children with disability) had chronic conditions or health problems such as severe asthma, cerebral palsy, diabetes or other chronic conditions. Two percent of children (19,300 children or 21 percent of disabled children) had psychiatric or psychological disabilities and this was the third most common disability type for children.

Note: The disability types for children that are shown in this report represent the detailed 'disability type' classification while the adult disability types represent the 'higher level' classification (see the Technical notes for more details). The more detailed classification has been used for children as many children fall into the 'other' category of the higher level classification.

The following table shows the causes of disability for children in 2006. More than half of disabled children had a disability caused by a condition that existed at birth. Approximately one-quarter of disabled children had a disability caused by disease or illness. For 12 percent of children with disability, the cause of disability was not specified or unknown.

Cause of disability for children (0–14 years), 2006

Disability Cause Number of children Percentage of disabled children Percentage of total children
Disease or illness 23,500 26 3
Existed at birth 46,600 52 5
Other cause 17,100 19 2
Accident or injury 2,500 3 0.3
Not specified 10,600 12 1

Note: people may have more than one cause of disability.
Figures have been rounded and discrepancies may occur between sums of component items and totals.

Just over half of all children with disability (52 percent) had a single disability and the remaining 48 percent had multiple disabilities. The majority of children with disability had low or medium support needs.

Note: 'Support level' is a measure of the level of support required for people with disability, based on the need for assistance and/or special equipment relating to the disability. In 2001, 'support level' was called 'severity' and had the categories 'mild', 'moderate' and 'severe'.

Support level for children (0–14 years) with disability, 2006

Number of children Percentage of disabled children Percentage of total children
Low support needs 36,600 41 4
Medium support needs 40,600 45 5
High support needs 12,800 14 1
Total with disability 90,000 100 10
Note: Figures have been rounded and discrepancies may occur between sums of component items and totals.

Adults (15 years and over)

Twelve percent of adults aged 15 years and over had a physical disability (an estimated 383,500 adults). This was the most common disability type for adults, affecting two-thirds of adults with disability.

Sensory disabilities (hearing and/or seeing disabilities) were the second most common disability type for adults, affecting 8 percent of adults (42 percent of adults with disability, or 239,000 adults). Seven percent of adults (39 percent of adults with disability, 224,500 adults) reported having other types of disability, such as difficulty speaking, learning, remembering or doing everyday activities.

Diseases or illnesses were the most common cause of disability for adults, followed by accidents or injuries and ageing. Accidents or injuries were given as a cause of disability for an estimated 166,300 adults and the most common type of accident or injury causing disability was one that occurred at work.

The most common causes of disability for adults differed by age group. Accidents or injuries were the most common cause of disability for adults aged 15 to 44 years (31 percent of people with disability), closely followed by ‘other’ causes (30 percent). Accidents or injuries were also the most common cause for adults aged 45 to 64 years (34 percent of people with disability), followed by disease or illness (32 percent). Ageing was the most common cause of disability for adults aged 65 years and over, affecting more than half of adults with disability. Disease or illness was the second most common cause for this age group (47 percent of adults with disability).

Cause of disability for adults (15 years and over), 2006

Number of adults Percentage of disabled adults Percentage of total adults
Disease or illness 211,100 37 7
Existed at birth 57,900 10 2
Natural ageing 153,200 27 5
Accident or injury 166,300 29 5
Other cause 142,100 25 5
Not specified 53,500 9 2
Note: People may have more than one cause of disability.

Figures have been rounded and discrepancies may occur between sums of component items and totals.

Forty percent of adults with disability had a single disability and 60 percent had multiple disabilities. The percentage of people with multiple disabilities increased with age. Fifty percent of people aged 15 to 44 years had multiple disabilities compared with 53 percent of adults aged 45 to 64 years old and 73 percent of adults aged 65 years and over.

Sixty-three percent of females and 54 percent of males with disability reported having multiple disabilities.

The support level for adults with disability is shown in table 6. Fifteen percent of the adult population in New Zealand had low or medium support needs while three percent had high support needs.

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Support level for adults (15 years and over) with disability, 2006

Number of adults Percentage of disabled adults Percentage of total adults
Low support needs 209,500 37 7
Medium support needs 268,000 47 9
High support needs 92,700 16 3
Total with disability 570,300 100 18
Note: Figures have been rounded and discrepancies may occur between sums of component items and totals

Adults living in residential care facilities

Nearly all adults living in residential care facilities reported having a disability (99.7 percent), compared with 17.4 percent of adults living in households. Only 5 percent of disabled adults living in residential facilities were aged less than 65 years. Most adults with disability living in residential facilities had high support needs (82 percent of disabled) and multiple disabilities (94 percent). In contrast only 12 percent of adults with disability living in households had high support needs and 58 percent had multiple disabilities.

Two-thirds of adults with disability in residential facilities lived in rest homes and one-third lived in continuing care hospitals. However, the survey excluded some types of residential facilities (see the Technical notes for further information on facility types included in the survey).

Ninety-seven percent of adults living in residential facilities had physical disabilities. Other types of disabilities (70 percent) and sensory disabilities (60 percent) were also common. Common causes of disability for adults living in residential facilities were disease or illness (70 percent of disabled adults) and natural ageing (56 percent of disabled adults). In comparison, 35 percent of disabled adults living in households reported disease or illness as a cause of disability and 25 percent reported natural ageing as a cause. Accidents or injuries were a more common cause of disability for adults living in households (30 percent of disabled adults) than adults living in residential facilities (20 percent of disabled adults).

Māori

Note: Ethnic group figures are based on prioritised data. Prioritisation is the method of categorising the ethnicity of a respondent who belongs to more than one ethnic group to a single group. While this is no longer a standard classification, it has been used in the 2006 Disability Survey to maintain comparability with the previous surveys. See the Technical notes for more information.

In 2006 there were an estimated 96,600 Māori with disability in New Zealand. Nearly all Māori with disability (99 percent) lived in households and less than one percent lived in residential facilities. The number of people with disability by ethnic group is shown in the following table, while the following graph shows disability rates by ethnic group. The total disability rate for Māori (17 percent) was higher than the disability rate for Pacific peoples (11 percent) but lower than the disability rate for European (18 percent).

Māori and Pacific peoples have a different age-structure to European, with a higher proportion of people aged less than 45 years. Eighty percent of Māori were aged less than 45 years, compared with 54 percent of the European population. (These figures are based on survey estimates and may differ from some population counts from the 2006 Census. See the Technical notes for more information.) For this reason, disability rates should be compared by age group.

Number of people with disability, by ethnic group and age group, 2006

Ethnic group

Age group (years) Total
0–14 15–44 45–64 65+
European 42,500 80,100 142,600 183,700 448,900
Māori 28,200 33,000 24,300 11,000 96,600
Pacific peoples 6,100 8,100 6,600 4,000 24,800
Asian 4,300 3,300 4,600 5,000 17,200
Other 8,900 17,000 30,400 16,500 72,700
Total 90,000 141,500 208,500 220,300 660,300
Note: The Asian estimate for 15-44 years should be used with caution as the relative sampling error is greater than 50 percent. See the technical notes for more information.

Figures have been rounded and discrepancies may occur between sums of component items and totals.

Māori had a higher disability rate than other ethnic groups in every age group. The higher proportion of young people in the Māori population meant that the majority of Māori with disability (63 percent) were aged less than 45 years. Nearly one-third of children with disability (31 percent) and nearly one-quarter of adults aged 15 to 44 years with disability (23 percent) were Māori.

An estimated 28,200 Māori children (14 percent of Māori children) had a disability. Five percent of Māori children (10,800) had special education needs and this was the most common type of disability for Māori children. Other common disability types were chronic conditions or health problems (5 percent of Māori children, 10,400 children) and psychiatric or psychological disabilities (3 percent of Māori children, 6,800 children).

Nineteen percent of Māori adults had disability (an estimated 68,300 adults). Two-thirds of Māori adults with disability (12 percent of all Māori aged 15 years and over) had physical disabilities. Forty-five percent of Māori adults with disability had ‘other’ disability types such as difficulty speaking, learning, remembering or doing everyday activities. Other common disability types included sensory (hearing and/or seeing) disabilities (37 percent of disabled) and psychiatric or psychological disabilities (26 percent of disabled). The most common causes of disability for Māori adults were disease or illness (34 percent of Māori adults with disability) followed by accidents or injuries (32 percent). The most common types of accidents or injuries occurred in the workplace or at home, or involved motor vehicle accidents. Thirty-eight percent of Māori adults with disability had a single disability and 62 percent had multiple disabilities.

Pacific peoples

In 2006, an estimated 24,800 Pacific peoples in New Zealand had a disability. Nearly all lived in households (98 percent) and only 2 percent lived in residential facilities.

The previous table and graph showed the numbers and rates of disability by ethnic group. The total disability rate for Pacific peoples (11 percent) was lower than the Māori rate (17 percent) and European rate (18 percent).

As mentioned previously, Pacific peoples had a higher proportion of young people in its population than the European population and disability rates should be compared by age group. Pacific peoples had a lower disability rate than Māori and a slightly lower rate than European in all age groups. Fifty-seven percent of Pacific peoples with disability were aged less than 45 years.

An estimated 6,100 Pacific children had disability. Three percent of Pacific children (2,500 children, 40 percent of disabled) had special education needs and 3 percent (2,400 children, 39 percent of disabled) had chronic conditions or health problems.

There were an estimated 18,700 Pacific adults with disability. Eight percent of the Pacific adult population (an estimated 11,900 or 64 percent of disabled Pacific adults) had physical disabilities. This was the most common disability type for this group. Other disability types, such as difficulty speaking, learning, remembering or doing everyday activities, were the next most common disability types (41 percent of disabled Pacific adults), followed by sensory (hearing and/or seeing) disabilities (35 percent of disabled Pacific adults).

Diseases and illnesses were by far the most common causes of disability for Pacific adults, accounting for disability for an estimated 8,100 adults (43 percent of disabled Pacific adults).

Twenty-four percent of Pacific adults with disability had high support needs, compared with 16 percent of total adults.

For technical enquiries contact:
Shari Mason
04 931 4600
Email: info@stats.govt.nz

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