The Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs is responsible for collecting and systematizing knowledge, research and statistics on the living conditions of people with disabilities. This work is especially important for monitoring Norway’s adherence to CRPD. On this page, we present some key indicators in accordance with important articles of the Convention.
How many Norwegians are disabled?
Surveys are one frequently used method for estimating the percentage of people with disabilities in a population. A representative population sample is asked if they have a disability. The responses from the survey are then generalized to apply to the population overall. Statistics Norway conducts several surveys where questions about disability are included. The annual Labour Force Survey is one of these. In this survey, disability is self-reported by answering the question: “By disability, we mean physical or mental health issues of a lasting character that may cause limitations in your daily life. This can, for instance, mean reduced sight or hearing, difficulties with reading and writing, mobility impairment, heart- or lung issues, cognitive difficulties, mental disorders, or other things. Are you, in your opinion, disabled?”.
How many Norwegians are disabled?
15-18 % are disabled
The definition used in the Labour Force Survey means that the number of people with disability varies somewhat from one year to the next, but generally, people with disabilities represent between 15 % and 18 % of the population. In 2017, the disabled proportion of the population, according to the Labour Force Survey, was 17 %, which equals approximately 605 000 people. The proportion of disabled women is higher than the proportion of disabled men. The gender difference, according to the Labour Force Survey, is around 4 %.
Methodological issues with survey data
One challenge when using survey data is that there are no standardized questions to identify the number of disabled people in the population. In other words, different surveys adhere to different definitions of disability, which again leads to surveys producing different results. Comparing surveys from different countries is difficult due to greatly varying definitions of disability across different cultures (Molden 2012:38-39). Read more about the Norwegian understanding of disability on this page.
In order for people with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, it’s important that people with disabilities have access to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications on an equal basis with others (Article 9, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities).
People with disabilities use public transport less than the general population
The majority of people, including those with disabilities, have used public transport during the last year. However, people with disabilities use public transport slightly less than the general population does. In 2015, approximately 65 % of people with disabilities stated they had used public transport in the past year, compared to 70 % of the general population. Both in the general population and the population with disability, women are more likely than men to use public transport.
It is important to note that these numbers give no indication of how often public transport is used, only that it has been used at least once over the past year.
Different types of disability
Amongst people with reduced mobility, 58 % stated that they had used public transport in the past year. 74 % of people with mental disability had used public transport in the past year, which is a higher proportion than in the general population.
Persons with disability have the same right to education as everyone else. In order to ensure this right without discrimination, it is important to secure that all levels of the educational system are inclusive.
Requirements for an inclusive school
In Norway, all children up to the age of 15 have the right to attend the school closest to their home. The right to attend the local school along with the children in their neighbourhood is important in fostering belonging and inclusion to the local area. The goal is that schools should be accessible for all children.
All pupils have the right to an education suited to them. The goal of special education is to improve pupil satisfaction and their learning environment. Before pupils receive special education, adjusted teaching in the main classroom should be considered.
The right to special education is gained when a pupil does not make, or is unable to make, satisfactory use of the ordinary teaching programme. The right to special education is given after a needs assessment. The proportion of pupils receiving special education increases by grade
Around 8 % of all 6-15 year-old pupils in Norway were granted special education in 2015-16. After several years with an increasing percentage of pupils receiving special education, signs point to a slight reduction in more recent years (Utdanningsdirektoratet 2015). The number of pupils receiving special education increases with age and school grade. In 1st grade, 4 % of pupils have special education, whilst in 10th grade the proportion is 11 %. Gender is another important factor; boys are more likely to receive special education than girls. This applies to all school grades.
2 out of 3 pupils receive special education outside their class
For 2 out of 3 pupils with special education needs, their special education occurs outside of their usual classroom. Special education outside the main classroom occurs in small groups or alone with a teacher or teaching assistant. In a lot of cases, this may have pedagogical reasons, but for some children this can negatively affect social and educational attainment later in life.
Promoting health and preventing illness, as well as securing necessary medical and care services to the population, is the government’s responsibility. All citizens shall have access to equal health services regardless of their diagnosis, location, personal finances, gender, ethnicity and the individual’s circumstances (Ministry of Health and Care, Proposition to the Storting 1 S [2013–2014]).
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities establishes that “persons with disabilities have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of disability”(UN, 2007).
Persons with disabilities have poorer self-reported health
33 % of people aged 20 to 66 with disabilities report having poor health. The same applies to 6 % of the general population. This number has been relatively stable in the past years. Although there is a significant difference between the population at large and people with disabilities, the graph also shows that only one out of three people with disabilities consider their own health to be poor. In other words, having a disability is not synonymous with having poor health.
People with disabilities have the same right to work as everyone else. This includes having the opportunity to choose your work and working in an open, inclusive, and accessible labour market and work environment.
44 % of people with disabilities are employed
In 2018, the employment rate in the working-age population was approximately 74 %. For people with disabilities, the employment rate was 44 %. Statistics Norway defines anyone working at least one hour per week as employed. In other words, this definition of employment is very wide and includes both people who primarily are in employment, and those who have a part-time job in addition to being students or receiving benefits.
The employment rate for people with disabilities in Norway has remained low, independent of the economic climate and intensified efforts to improve it in recent years. Compared to other OECD countries, Norway is in the middle of the range.
41 % of employed people with disabilities work part-time
Part-time work is more common amongst people with disabilities than in the general population. In 2018, around 24 % of the general population worked part-time, whilst the same applied to approximately 41 % of the population with disabilities.
However, it is important to consider that reduced working hours often enables more people with disabilities to be in employment.
Participation in political and civic life
In 2013, there was no difference between people with disabilities and the general population in election turnout. Considering not all voting stations are sufficiently accessible, this is a positive finding.
Interest and partcipation in politics
According to a citizen survey (Difi 2015), people with disabilities are on average more politically active outside of elections than the general population. 21 % of people with disabilities report actively seeking out to affect parliamentary decisions, whilst the same applies to 17 % of the general population.
Percentage of the general population, and people with disabilities, who have engaged politically in different ways. 2015.
There is also a slightly higher proportion among people with disabilities who have contacted politicians about matters that are important to them. This applies to both politicians in the Parliament and in the municipality.