This literature review outlines an analysis of 14 household surveys from 13 developing countries suggests that 1–2 percent of the population have disabilities. Adults with disabilities typically live in poorer than average households. Much of the association appears to reflect lower educational attainment among adults with disabilities. Analysis of these datasets provides little evidence to suggest that children with disabilities are generally more or less likely to live in richer or poorer households. Adults with disabilities do typically live in poorer households, but much of this association appears to come from the fact that they have lower educational attainment. Children with disabilities are almost always much less likely to participate in schooling than are other children. They are also less likely to start school, and in some countries they have lower transition rates. The school participation disability deficit is typically larger than deficits associated with characteristics such as gender, rural residence, or economic status.
This analysis suggests that in developing countries disability is associated with long-run poverty, in the sense that children with disabilities are less likely to acquire the human capital that will allow them to earn higher incomes. In all countries, the schooling gap between children with and without disabilities starts at grade 1, suggesting that efforts are needed to boost enrolments of children with disabilities at the earliest grades in order to increase education attainment for this population. The result that the disability deficit widens from grade to grade in countries that have achieved relatively high enrolment among children without disabilities suggests that special effort may be needed to keep children with disabilities in school.