According to the United Nations, nearly 83 million women and men in China or 6.3 per cent of the population had a disability. Slightly over half of this population (52 per cent) is male, and 48 per cent female. Over 32 million people are of working age. Most people with disabilities (75 per cent) live in rural areas. Poverty is widespread – evidence from 2005 indicates that almost 14 million people with disabilities in rural areas live in poverty and that the per capita income of households including persons with disabilities was less than half the average for other households.
Around 43 per cent of people with disabilities over age 15 are reported to be illiterate. Less than two thirds (63 per cent) of children with disabilities aged 6 to 14 are enrolled in school. About 85 per cent of poor disabled persons have never advanced beyond middle school education. As a result, they had comparatively lower qualifications and poor production skills. In 2006, the annual average employment rate of persons with disabilities was 76 per cent in urban areas and 79 per cent in rural areas, compared to employment rates of over 90 per cent among non-disabled persons.