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Houston, Texas

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Demographics--Marital Status

Women with severe disabilities are less likely to be married than other women.

Are women with disabilities as likely as other women to be married? For the most part, the answer is a flat-out "no". What reasons are given for this difference? Findings on marital status and women with disabilities indicate the following:

  • Women with disabilities tend to have lower rates of being married than men or women without disabilities and men with disabilities. For example, in 1992, 50% of women with activity limitations were married compared to 64% of the women without activity limitations. Most notably, only 44% of women with severe limitations were married at the time of the study. Women with activity limitations are less often currently married and more often widowed, compared to other groups. It is unknown whether this difference is related to women's greater longevity.
  • Another analysis, however, found that all women regardless of age or limitation were more likely to be married than to be in any other marital status category (i.e., widowed, divorced or separated, and never married), except women 65 or older with functional limitations, who were more likely to be widowed. However, women with three or more functional limitations were significantly less likely than women with two or less functional limitations to be married.
  • One study found that, 3-5 years after leaving secondary school, young women with disabilities tended to have the same marriage rates as those without disabilities, but a closer look revealed that marriage depended on the types of disabilities they had. It seems that young women with physical disabilities were less likely to be married than those women with learning, speech, and emotional disabilities. The women with physical disabilities were also not as likely to be living with a partner. The author writing about this study suggested this difference might be related to cultural norms of attractiveness.
  • According to study of nearly 1000 women with and without disabilities, more than half (58%) of the women with disabilities were single compared to 45% of the women without disabilities - 42% of the women with disabilities said they were not married (or in a serious relationship) because no one asked them compared to 27% of women without disabilities.

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