Disability and Age – Disability in America Series

July 2016

The chart below explores the American Community Survey 5-year data (Table S1810) on 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.

Chart 4. Rate of disability by age and county type. A bar chart highlighting that the rates of disability increase from urban to rural counties across all age groups.














Chart. 4.  Rate of Disability by Age and County type.This chart shows that disability rates increase with age across all county types. However, disability rates are also higher in the more rural counties (micropolitan and noncore) regardless of age. We see the lowest rates of disability for individuals under 5 years old (0.8% in metropolitan, 1% in micropolitan and 1% in noncore counties); however, these data only represent responses to the vision and hearing difficulty questions. For ages 5 to 17 all but the independent living difficulty questions are asked and we see higher rates of disability (5.2%, 6.3% and 6.6% moving from urban to rural). For to 34 year olds, rates climb only slightly (5.4%, 7.4%, 8.3%). For individuals 35 to 65, rates increase (12.2%, 16.8%, 18.6%) and then jump higher for those aged 65 to 75 (24.8%, 29.2%, 30.9%). Finally, we see the highest rates for the oldest age group, those over 75 with 50.1% in metropolitan, 52.3% in micropolitan and 53.6% in noncore counties.  All questions are asked (vision, hearing, cognitive, ambulatory, self-care, IL) for respondents over the age of 18 years. Earlier, we suggested that disability rates in rural areas could be related to the older age of individuals living in rural counties. However, this chart shows that although disability rates do increase with age, age alone cannot account for this disparity as we see higher rates of disability across all age groups.

This work is part of the RTC:Rural Geography of Disability Project.