The latest results from the New Zealand Disability Survey confirm that 1.1 million people – 24 per cent of the population – are identified as disabled.
This is up from 20 per cent in 2001.
The figures released by Statistics New Zealand show that 11 per cent of children and 27 per cent of adults are limited in their daily activities by a range of impairments.
For children, the most common impairment is learning difficulties, which affects six per cent of all children, and more boys than girls.
Adults are most commonly affected by a physical limitation, a problem more prevalent among women than men.
Study contributor Diane Ramsay said New Zealand’s ageing and long-living population was the largest single contributor to the large statistic.
“The New Zealand population is ageing, with the proportion of the population aged over 65 years growing, and this group has a higher likelihood of being disabled than younger adults or children,” said Diane Ramsay, the agency’s labour market and household statistics manager.
“Other contributors to the increase cover a range of factors, from other health related conditions, to greater awareness and increasing acceptability.”
The survey, completed last year, involved interviews with 23,000 disabled and non-disabled children and adults, plus 1000 adults living in residential care facilities.
Disability rates varied across the country, with the Auckland region reporting a lower rate of 19 per cent, and four regions, Taranaki, Northland, Bay of Plenty, and Manawatu-Whanganui reporting rates above the norm.
“Two in 10 people in the Auckland region were limited in their daily lives by long-term impairment, compared with three in 10 people living in the Taranaki and Northland regions,” Ms Ramsay said.
Just over half of all disabled people had more than one type of impairment.