Disabilities on rise in ageing NZ population

Last updated 05:00 18/06/2014

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The number of New Zealanders with a disability has risen to nearly a quarter of the population.

In a release of information based on its 2013 disability survey, Statistics New Zealand said an estimated 24 per cent of the population - 1.06 million people - were disabled. That was up from 20 per cent in 2001 and was partly explained by the ageing population.

People may also be more willing to report limitations as public perception of disability changed, and improvements to survey methods could also be a factor.

Maori and Pacific people had higher than average disability rates, after adjusting for age profiles, SNZ said.

Among boys under 15, an estimated 13 per cent were disabled, while for girls, 8 per cent were disabled.

For males and females aged 15 to 44, the figure was 16 per cent in both cases.

Twenty-eight per cent of both men and women aged 45 to 64 were disabled.

For those aged 65 and over, 58 per cent of men and 60 per cent of women were disabled.

Everyday activities of an estimated 14 per cent of people were limited by physical impairment. It was the most common impairment type for those aged 15 and over, ranging from 7 per cent for adults aged under 45, to 49 per cent for those 65 and over.

The survey found that 20 per cent of women had a physical disability, and 15 per cent of men. 

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