Seven facts about Americans with disabilities

August 10, 2017

Did you know that Americans with disabilities were more politically engaged in the 2016 election, or less likely to adopt technology? Those are just two of the seven interesting facts the Pew Research Center released in an analysis of the estimated 40 million Americans living with disabilities. Read the full story below. 

1. Older Americans are significantly more likely than younger Americans to have a disability

About half of Americans ages 75 and older (49.8%) reported living with a disability in 2015, as did about a quarter (25.4%) of those 65 to 74.

2. While there is little difference between men and women in the likelihood of having a disability, there are differences by race and ethnicity

Asians were least likely to report they had a disability (6.9%), followed by Hispanics (8.8%). American Indians or Alaskan Natives, on the other hand, were most likely to report a disability (17.7%). Similar shares of whites (13.9%) and blacks (14.1%) reported living with a disability.

3. The most common types of disability involve difficulties with walking or independent living

More than 20 million people ages 18 and older reported having serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs in 2015, representing 7.1% of the civilian non-institutionalized population. Another 14 million people ages 18 and older reported having a difficult time doing errands alone (for example, shopping or visiting a doctor) due to physical, mental or emotional conditions.
About 13 million people reported cognitive difficulties. Around 11 million people in the U.S. reported significant hearing difficulty, while roughly 7 million reported significant difficulty with vision, even when wearing glasses.

4. Some states, counties and cities are more likely than others to have residents with a disability

West Virginia had the highest share of any state, at 19.4%. In Arkansas, Kentucky and Alabama, about 17% said they had a disability. In contrast, Utah was among the lowest, with 9.9% of the population reporting a disability in 2015.

5. Disabled Americans earn less than those without a disability

Those with a disability earned a median of $21,572 in 2015, less than 70% of the median earnings for those without a disability ($31,872), according to the Census Bureau. Both figures are for the civilian, non-institutionalized population ages 16 and older, measured in earnings over the past 12 months.

6. Disabled Americans were politically engaged in the 2016 presidential election

In a survey conducted in the early summer of 2016, about seven-in-ten (71%) Americans who self-identified as having a disability said it “really matters who wins the election,” compared with 59% of Americans who did not report having a disability.

Americans with disabilities were as likely as the able-bodied population to say they were registered to vote — and to say they actually did vote— in the 2016 presidential election. In a post-election survey, Americans with disabilities reported vote preferences that were similar to those of voters overall: 46% said they voted for Hillary Clinton and 45% said they voted for Donald Trump.

7. Disabled Americans have lower rates of technology adoption

Nearly a quarter of Americans with a disability (23%) say they never go online, compared with just 8% of those without a disability, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in the fall of 2016. Disabled adults are also about 20 percentage points less likely than those without disabilities to say they subscribe to home broadband, or own a traditional computer, smartphone or tablet.

The amount of time people spend online also varies by disability status. Only half of disabled Americans report using the internet on a daily basis, compared to almost eight-in-ten of the non-disabled (79%).

Click here to read the full article on the Pew Research Center’s website.

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