Characteristics of Persons with Developmental Disabilities: Evidence from the Survey of Income and Program Participation


In spite of the growth in federal programs affecting the developmentally disabled, there is little comprehensive information about this population. The Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) is one available source of information. SIPP is a nationally representative longitudinal survey of the adult civilian non-institutionalized population in the U.S. One topical module in the 1984 SIPP Panel collected data on health conditions and functional limitations. Estimates of persons with developmental disabilities were made using these data. Based on varying definitions of developmental disability, the prevalence is estimated to range from 1.3 million (narrow definition) to 1.7 million (middle definition) to 4.6 million (broad definition). SIPP is limited to persons aged 16-72. It focuses mainly on work limitations and does not ask age of onset. Nevertheless, in the absence of more focused surveys, it does provide useful insights into the size and characteristics of the developmentally disabled population. Prevalence rates derived from SIPP are generally consistent with current estimates derived from other sources. [32 PDF pages]

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