Intellectual disabilities, global poverty and isolation

Speaking at the Special Olympics Global Development Summit in PyeongChang, Korea, began remarks the connections between intellectual disabilities, poverty and isolation with a question:

How many people are there, living in developing countries, and around the world, who are both poor, and have intellectual disabilities?

The answer is going to shock you, as it does me. The answer is: We do not know. No one in the world knows. We live in the information age, where people complain of TMI – too much information. Yet we have a scarcity of data on intellectual disabilities and poverty.

Today I’d like to talk to you about the vital importance of identifying and measuring isolation in the context of Multi-Dimensional Poverty, in a way that reflects the full reality of people with intellectual disabilities, and thereby is relevant for policy and bringing about change. And I will share with you a programme which is just beginning at the University of Oxford, on this topic.

First, the data: We have information on stock prices every hour; we have information on inflation, on labour markets, on GDP growth, and consumer prices every quarter. We have consolidated information on hundreds of economic and social indicators every year. But in developing countries, we have updated data on multidimensional poverty only once in every three to ten years. Data constraints severely hamper our ability to understand and reduce poverty in many countries.

Read full text of Intellectual disabilities, global poverty and isolation.