Disability in Kazakhstan: An Evaluation of Official Data

In order to answer the questions of (a) what is the true pattern of disability in Kazakhstan; (b) whether the incidence of disability is decreasing; and (c) what is the life expectancy of Kazakhstan's disabled, this paper attempts first to create an historical picture of disability in Kazakhstan by analyzing government population statistics and studying the evolution of disability determination procedure in the former Soviet Union and independent Kazakhstan. Doing so is not a trivial task, as there has been almost no systematic research, either in Russian or English. The paper concludes that the optimistic official picture of disability patterns in Kazakhstan is almost certainly inaccurate. The paper details that the quality of official disability data is high, and much can be learned from the patterns. However, changing definitions and strictness of enforcement make time series comparisons problematic, and the improvements in adult disability recorded are inconsistent both with trends for children, and with mortality trends. Rather, the authors note that barriers for applying disability benefits have increased and incentives to report disabilities have decreased markedly in the past 15 years, so that it is virtually certain that there is substantial hidden disability.