Pakistan Institute of Development Economics

PDR

THE PAKISTAN DEVELOPMENT REVIEW 

Some Demographic Features of the Disabled Population inPakistan

Although disability has been the area of concern in the domainof such disciplines as social welfare and public health, the seriousconcern on the demography of disability as an important research subjecthas emerged only recently. In the less developed countries where most ofthe world popUlation lives, the rapid decline in mortality with littlereduction in fertility, under the conditions of underdevelopment,nutritional deficiencies, insufficient coverage for health, inadequatesanitation and safe water facilities, has been contributing to theincreasing number of disabled persons. This is because the availabilityof modern medicine, even to an inadequate extent, has contributed to thereduction in mortality, but many of those who survive become permanentlydisabled. Apart from the differences in data collection systems indifferent countries and the problems associated with such approaches,the variations in prevalence of disability are partly attributed to suchfactors as differential chronic and infectious disease patterns;differential life expectancy; the age structure of populations andpopulation composition; differential nutritional status; differentialrates of exposure to environmental, occupational and traffic hazards;and variations in public health practice [United Nations. (1990)]. Indeveloped countries where the increase in life expectancy had started tooccur earlier than the developing countries, the decline in fertilityled to the growing proportions of the elderly in their population. Asthe proportion of the elderly popUlation in the total population getslarger the proportion of the disabled become conspicuous. This isbecause in both developed and deVeloping countries the age structure ofthe disabled popUlation is predominantly elderly in comparison to theoverall population age structure. It has been observed that in suchdeveloped countries where the ageing process has gone furthest, thenumber of disabled persons have increased rapidly. [Okoliski(1986).]

Mohammad Afzal

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