Temporal and Spatial Discourse of Disability Divides in India: A District-Level Analysis

Baikunth Roy


The study quantifies and compares the prevalence of each type of disability across gender, regions and social groups of India. A cursory glance across the districts (using GIS mapping) shows that the incidence of disability is distributed across every nook and corner. There is a marginal increase in the proportion of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in 2011 relative to 2001. Its prevalence is more among males than females. Its decadal growth is higher in the urban areas. Further, it’s more among scheduled castes (SCs). Although there is a significant improvement in data collection in the 2011 Census, concerns have been raised in the present study about the enumeration process. Close to one-third of PWDs belong to “any-other” and “multiple categories” which reveal lacunae in the estimates. Besides, there is an apparent underestimation of disability data because of deep-seated stigma among women and inadequate coverage of mental health issues in the country. Based on the estimates of the regression model, the findings suggest that improvement in educational standards among women, creating employment opportunities and improving average living conditions can significantly reduce disability. However, there is a growing elderly population and increasing age is associated with rising disability. As the burden of disability falls disproportionately across geographic regions and socioeconomic groups, public health policies should take this variation into account. Thus, providing access to basic capabilities to PWDs may be strategically important to reduce the challenges for the disabled

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