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  • Writer's picturePeta

What is it like to live with a disability in different countries?

Do you ever think about who you would have been if you were born in a different country? Do you think your life would have been easier or harder? This week Peta explores what it is like to live with a disability across the world. Where do you think Peta found the 'best' place in the world for people with disabilities to live?

You can ask Peta a question via:


You can follow Peta's personal account on Instagram @petahooke

References used for this episode:


Episode Transcript:

Peta [00:00:02] Hello and welcome to The I Can't Stand Podcast, the podcast, answering your questions on what it's like to live with a disability. My name is Peta, I have cerebral palsy and I'm your host. This week was a real doozy and I learnt a lot, actually.

[00:00:20] What is it like to live with a disability in other countries? If you'd like to ask me a question, there are three ways you can do so. One by my Instagram @petahooke which is spelt P.E.T.A.H.O.O.K.E. Via my email at Or via My website OK, without any further ado, let's get into it.

[00:01:02] This week, Elizabeth contacted me and asked me this question.

Elizabeth [00:01:08] Peta, how does Australia compare with other countries in providing disability access and services?

Peta [00:01:15] Such a good question, and it took me a minute to figure out how to answer it because obviously, I don't know everything about what it's like to live in other countries. I only know from an Australian perspective. So I decided to read lots of official documents from the United Nations or the World Bank, which I will link in the show notes if you want to have a look through. And I found some really interesting information. The difficulty in sourcing information, though, a lot of the official websites did not include Australia in many of the statistics, we were sort of middle of the road in many ways. A lot of the issues that I came across that are facing people with disabilities around the globe are in relation to developing economies or third world countries, and as Australia is a developed and very privileged country in the world, a lot of these statistics I haven't been able to directly compare with Australia.

[00:02:23] So instead, I'm going to try and highlight to you which countries are the best countries for people with disabilities and which countries are really difficult to live in. To get an insight into what it's like to live with a disability in different countries, I think things like the rate of part-time employment for people with disabilities is a really good indication. Poland tops the charts with the highest rate of people with disabilities engaging in part-time employment. 20 percent of people with disabilities work part-time there. This really goes against the culture it seems as only 10 percent of the population that don't have disabilities work part-time. Now, that can be seen as a good thing, as many people with disabilities are, in fact, employed or can be seen as a negative, as it may indicate that people with disabilities do not have the same equal opportunities as people without disabilities in Poland to gain full-time employment.

[00:03:33] Self-employment for people with disabilities is a common pathway. It's a pathway that I have decided to go down and interestingly, it's most common in Zimbabwe and Indonesia with 75 percent in Zimbabwe and 70 percent in Indonesia of the population with disabilities engaged in this type of employment. Overall, women with disabilities are the most disadvantaged in gaining employment across all regions of the world. In northern Africa and Western Asia, just 14 percent of working age women with disabilities are employed. Comparing to Europe that has 42 percent of women with disabilities employed, which is the highest rate in the world. The most commonplace for men with disabilities to gain employment is in the Oceania region, with 51 percent of men with disabilities employed.

[00:04:35] Regardless of the fact that women with disabilities on average, struggle to gain employment, women with disabilities are more likely to engage in tertiary education. With Finland, Spain and Denmark being the most common countries for women with disabilities to be engaged in the system. So women overall are more likely to gain higher education than their male counterparts, regardless of whether you have a disability or not. Vietnam has one of the lowest engagement of people with disabilities of any gender attending tertiary education.

[00:05:15] In Romania, the disabled population is least likely to have a shower or bath in their home, with over 35 percent of the disabled population not having any access to a bath or shower. However, this might be a cultural thing as the general population, over 20 percent do not have a bath or shower. Very interesting. The most likely place to be experiencing poverty if you have a disability, this really shocked me, is South Korea with over a third of people with disabilities in poverty. The second on that list was the USA, with 32 percent of women and 26 percent of males with a disability experiencing poverty. The region that has the least amount of population living below the poverty line is Macau. Only 11 percent of women with disabilities live below the poverty line there and 12 percent for males with a disability. This, by far, is one of the lowest rates in the world.

[00:06:29] Another big issue for people with disabilities is health care. The countries that have the most equal access to health care I found were Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Cyprus, interestingly. The hardest place to access health care for people with disabilities is Montenegro, with 40 percent of people with disabilities living there, not having any access to health care. Another big area and when you have a disability is access to welfare. Accessing welfare is difficult in Africa and the best place, if you had to pick somewhere in Africa to live in accessing welfare is South Africa, with 80 percent of people with disabilities being able to access welfare there. Which is still shocking to think that 20 percent of the population with disabilities can't. Whereas in places like Malawi, only six percent of people with disabilities having access to welfare there.

[00:07:34] Disability can impact anyone at any time, as we know, but fascinatingly, the country with the highest percentage of people with disabilities in their population is New Zealand, 24 percent of their overall population has a disability. Georgia, as in the country, in Europe and Australia, tied for second with 18 percent of our overall population accounting for people with disabilities. Vanuatu, interestingly, rounded out the top five with 12 percent of the population. Overall, China has the highest number of people with disabilities in the population, which is just six percent, but when you're talking about such a large population, six percent equals eighty three million people.

[00:08:34] So where would I live if I had my choice? Well, I mean, New Zealand sounds great because you're definitely not the odd one out there if you have a disability. Twenty-four percent. If I had to live in Africa, I'd be picking South Africa. If I had to live in Asia, I'd be picking Macao because of the low poverty rates there. If I had to leave in Europe, I would be picking Germany. North and South America really didn't have that much positive reading, if I'm honest. Although Canada was sort of middle of the road of many of these statistics.

[00:09:19] So I appreciate the statistics that times can be tricky to gain a full insight as to what is happening in each of these countries, but I still think it's an important level of understanding that we all should have that gives us insights on how we can encourage our governments to improve in certain areas. I think it's important to look from a global perspective to see how we can best improve. But this research did confirm to me and remind me how lucky I am to be born in a developed country that does support people with disabilities. Yes, there's a lot of things that I wish would change and need to improve. But on a global scale, we're pretty lucky to be Australian.

[00:10:13] Thank you for listening to this week's episode. I hope you enjoyed it. If you did enjoy it can I please encourage you to write a review if you listen on Apple Podcasts? If you listen on Spotify, please click that little heart. Or If you can share the podcast on social media or tell a friend, I would really appreciate it until next week guys, bye.


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