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Disability estimates for small areas 2013

Information about the tool

Disability estimates for small areas 2013 is an interactive data tool that allows people to look at the rate of disability and specific impairments. Currently you can compare:

  • disability rate (prevalence) for selected age groups by territorial authority (TA) area, with the overall prevalence of disability in New Zealand
  • vision, hearing, physical and psychological/psychiatric impairment rates for selected age groups by TA area with the national impairment rates.

We developed the tool to provide an interactive way for people to explore disability estimates for small age groups and TA areas. You can also download the data behind the tool.

The tool uses the best and most up-to-date available information about disability, which comes from the Disability Survey 2013 and the 2013 Census. 

What you’ll see

The interactive tool lets you select the impairment type(s), age group(s), and TA areas you want information about.

Watch this clip for a demonstration of the tool’s features: 

Results display on a graph. On a separate tab, the same information displays in a table. You can select a different combination of impairment type, age group, and/or TA area using the drop-down lists. The information automatically updates. You can also choose to see results for particular age groups, TA areas, or impairment type, side-by-side with results for the total New Zealand population. Graphs and tables can be downloaded.

Like all estimates, these disability estimates for small groups are subject to some uncertainty. Error bars shown on the graphs indicate the size of this uncertainty.

Where next for this tool? You tell us!

We developed this tool to allow people to select their preferred groups for comparison. If there is demand and resource is available, there is potential to expand the information available in this tool – to compare further aspects of disability and population breakdown.

For example, developments that might be possible include:

  • estimates updated for 2017, to reflect changes in the total population. If we assume the prevalence of disability is relatively stable over time, information from the 2013 Disability Survey provides a valid input to our estimation process
  • estimates for the local area boards within the Auckland TA area
  • ethnicity breakdown
  • estimates for residents in non-private dwellings (eg residential care facilities for older people). Currently the tool only includes residents living in occupied private dwellings (eg private houses and apartments). The former are more challenging to produce because results from the Disability Survey of Residential Facilities (see How we produced the estimates in this tool) are not linked to the census data
  • further, or more flexible, age breakdown
  • further breakdowns by type of impairment (eg intellectual and memory impairments). We chose four impairment types (hearing, vision, physical, psychological/psychiatric) for the initial tool
  • adapting the tool to help compare TA areas
  • sex breakdown.

If you have a particular need for one of the above, or for an alternative breakdown, please let us know.


Information about the New Zealand Disability Survey

The 2013 New Zealand Disability Survey (NZDS) estimated 24 percent of the total population was disabled. NZDS is currently the most comprehensive source of information on disabled people in New Zealand, with a sample size of around 20,000 people. It provides information on the prevalence of disability by age, sex, and ethnic group, down to region level. It also provides information on disability rates for specific impairment types, including sensory, physical, intellectual, and psychiatric/ psychological impairment.

Two surveys make up the NZDS.

  • The 2013 Household Disability Survey (HDS), which surveys the usually resident population of New Zealand living in occupied private dwellings, or group homes with fewer than five people, on census night 2013. HDS includes children (0–14 years) and adults (15 years and over (15+)). The survey used two questions from the 2013 Census to help select a sample.
  • The 2013 Disability Survey of Residential Facilities surveys the usually resident population of New Zealand aged 15+ living in residential care facilities on census night 2013. Adults surveyed are from a sample of facilities selected from a Ministry of Health list.

NZDS uses the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) framework. The ICF defines functioning and disability as multi-dimensional concepts relating to the:

  • body functions and structures of people
  • activities people do and the life areas in which they participate
  • factors in their environment which affect these experiences.

Disability is an impairment that has a long-term, limiting effect on a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities. ‘Long-term’ is defined as six months or longer. ‘Limiting effect’ means a restriction or lack of ability to perform. People are not considered to be disabled if an assistive device that they use (such as glasses or crutches) means that their impairment has no limiting effect.

Impairments can be physical, sensory, intellectual, psychological/psychiatric, or other.

See definitions for a full list.

See disabilities for further information and releases from NZDS.

How we produced the estimates in this tool

Most estimates available in the tool were produced using a method called small domain estimation (SDE).

Using SDE, we combined the 2013 HDS and the 2013 Census data, using a statistical model to produce estimates for areas smaller than regions. This model combines the strengths of the HDS (detailed information about disabled people) with the strengths of the census (a smaller set of information about everyone in New Zealand) to estimate the likelihood that an individual will be disabled. 

The two information sources we used to create these disability statistics were the:

  • Household Disability Survey: 2013 – provides information on the prevalence of disability as described above in Information about the New Zealand Disability Survey.
  • 2013 Census – provides the official count of population in New Zealand and a breakdown of the population by age, sex, and location of usual residence. The census can produce estimates for small groups, but doesn’t contain details about the topics available in HDS. The 2013 Census contained two questions about disability, designed specifically to help select the sample for the 2013 HDS.

See 2013 Census forms and guide notes for the two questions.  

We used the SDE technique because the number of survey respondents that are disabled is too small to provide reliable estimates for areas smaller than regions. However, the estimates for New Zealand as a whole were produced using our standard survey estimation method.

‘Small domain’ refers to small demographic groups, such as specific age groups or people living in a particular geographical area.

We provide estimates as both rates and counts. Similar to other estimates produced by the HDS, these estimates cover the usually resident population of New Zealand, living in occupied private dwellings or group homes on the night of the 2013 Census of Population and Dwellings.

Information on the number of people in residential care facilities who are disabled is collected by the 2013 Disability Survey of Residential Facilities. See tables 9.01 and 9.02 of our Disability Survey: 2013 release. At the national level, the effect of excluding adults in residential care facilities reduced the disability rates across most age-group estimates by a factor of less than 1.02. However, the effect was larger for ages 80+ and also for people 65+ with a vision impairment. 

See Territorial authority estimates produced from the Household Disability Survey using small domain estimation for more information about SDE.

Stats NZ (2017). Disability estimates for small areas 2013. Retrieved from   

ISBN 978-1-98-852801-4 (online)
Published 20 April 2017

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