Tag Archives: disability rate

New Research Explores Disability at the Household Level

A family of a man using a wheelchair, a woman, and a young man pose together outside.

Picture from Healthy Community Living (www.healthycommunityliving.com).

A new RTC:Rural Research Brief by RTC:Rural partner Christiane von Reichert, Ph.D., Professor of Geography at the University of Montana, presents research on disability rates at the household level. The brief, titled “Prevalence of Disability: Individual and Household Context,” is available for download on the Geography and Rural Disability page on the RTC:Rural website. This work highlights the number of people without disabilities who live in households with someone with a disability, and contributes to a larger study on migration and disability and rural/urban differences in disability levels.

In this study, von Reichert analyzed American Community Survey data to determine the number of households in the United States that have at least one member with a disability. She found that about 308 million Americans, or 97% of the total population, live in households. About 41 million, or 13%, of Americans have at least one type of disability, and 38 million of them live in households. The others live in group quarters, which include dormitories, nursing homes, and prisons.

Of those who live in households, 230 million are people who do not have a disability, and live in a household with no members with disabilities. Approximately 78 million people without disabilities live in households with a member who experiences a disability. This means that nearly 25% of the US population lives in a household with a member with a disability.

This analysis highlights the fact that the impact of disability goes beyond the individual level and extends to the household-level, said von Reichert, an insight that needs to be taken into consideration for future disability research and policy-making.

Six charts that illustrate the divide between rural and urban America

RTC:Rural is proud that our researchers were invited to contribute to this article, which was published in The Conversation on March 17, 2017, and subsequently on PBS News, US News & World Report, and Salon.


Authors: Brian Thiede, Pennsylvania State University; Lillie Greiman, The University of Montana; Stephan Weiler, Colorado State University; Steven C. Beda, University of Oregon, and Tessa Conroy, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Editor’s note: We’ve all heard of the great divide between life in rural and urban America. But what are the factors that contribute to these differences? We asked sociologists, economists, geographers and historians to describe the divide from different angles. The data paint a richer and sometimes surprising picture of the U.S. today. The Conversation

1. Poverty is higher in rural areas

Discussions of poverty in the United States often mistakenly focus on urban areas. While urban poverty is a unique challenge, rates of poverty have historically been higher in rural than urban areas. In fact, levels of rural poverty were often double those in urban areas throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

While these rural-urban gaps have diminished markedly, substantial differences persist. In 2015, 16.7 percent of the rural population was poor, compared with 13.0 percent of the urban population overall – and 10.8 percent among those living in suburban areas outside of principal cities.

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