An excellent report came out of the Daily Yonder blog, entitled The Geography of Disability. The article demonstrates that Social Security disability rates tend to be higher in rural areas. The article also provides state by state disability rates, and offers a national map showing relative disability rates by county, based upon 2009 statistics. The article is a certainly worth reading, and has been discussed extensively elsewhere.
Take a look at the disability map published by Daily Yonder:
Maine and New Hampshire follow the national trend. You can see that the rural areas of northern Maine and northern New Hampshire each have much higher disability rates than the rest of the state. That is not surprising to me.
I was surprised, however, by the percentage of the working age population disabled in Maine. 7.6% of the working age population is receiving disability benefits, according to a chart in the article. That is a much higher percentage than I expected, and Maine ranks #6 in the country in this category.
New Hampshire is a full 2 percentage points lower, with 5.6% of the working age population receiving disability benefits. New Hampshire ranks #15 in the country in this category.
The two states are adjacent, and have nearly identical populations. Why the difference in disability rates? Maine is almost 4 times larger than New Hampshire, with the same population; Maine therefore has much more rural area. The differing rates for these two states tend to support the thesis of the Daily Yonder article, that disability rates are higher in rural areas.
I commend the authors, Bill Bishop and Robert Gallardo, for a thought-provoking article.