Disability Across America


The chart and map below explore the 2010-2014 ACS 5-year (table S1810) disability estimates by county type (OMB county classifications). The ACS asks a set of disability indicator questions to determine disability, if a respondent can answer “yes” to any disability question they are classified as having a disability. The data below are for all age groups.


Chart 1. Disability rates by metro status. A bar chart indicating how the rates of disability increase from urban to rural counties.

Chart 1. Disability Rates by Metro Status. The chart above shows the rate of disability across county types. The rate of disability across the nation is 12.4%. However, when looking at just the rates of disability in metropolitan counties, the most urban county type, we see that number drop slightly to 11.7%. As counties get more rural the rate of disability increases to 15.5% in micropolitan counties to 17.7% in noncore counties (the most rural counties). Clearly, disability matters for rural America, but why is this? In the past policy makers and researchers have speculated that these higher rates could be due to the older population of rural counties. Indeed, the national rate of individuals aged 65 years and older is 13.6% of the population but this number increases to 15.7% in micropolitan counties and 18% in noncore counties, mirroring disability rates. We explore this further in the charts below.

Map of disability rates across the country.


This work is part of the Geography of Disability Project.