Identifying the Population with Disability: The Approach of an INSEE Survey on Daily Life and Health

Issues of Terminology, Data Collection, and Measurement
By Jean-François Ravaud, Alain Letourmy, Isabelle Ville, Yolande Obadia


It is very difficult to provide an estimate of the population with disability. For this reason, disability is considered here as a multi-faceted reality that has to be approached from numerous angles. This study is based on the survey “Vie quotidienne et santé” (VQS, Daily Life and Health) conducted by INSEE during the screening phase of the “Handicaps, incapacités, dépendance” (Disability, Functional Limitations, and Dependency) survey. The VQS survey, conducted in combination with the 1999 census, was based on a representative sample of 400,000 persons. It relied on several approaches to disability: functional limitation, need of assistance, restriction of activity, self-attribution of a disability, and official social recognition. First, we analysed the relations between the various approaches by studying the prevalence of disability estimated for each approach taken separately, and the overlap between the resulting sub-populations. Next, we examined the probability of self-attribution of a disability and its determinants by means of logistic regressions. Special attention was paid to the impact of sex and age. The article concludes with a discussion of the methodological contributions of the VQS survey.

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