Is Your Hearing Loss Costing You Money?
Of the entire 48 million Americans that describe some level of hearing loss, 60 percent are presently in the workforce. Which means millions of Americans head to work every day with less than perfect hearing.
We know that hearing loss negatively influences general physical, social, and mental health, but what about the economic consequences? Does hearing loss impact salary, and does the treatment of hearing loss help?
The Better Hearing Institute set out to answer these questions in a study titled The Impact of Untreated Hearing Loss on Household Income. Here’s a brief overview of the study, the results, and the ramifications.
The Better Hearing Institute (BHI) started by sending out a brief screening survey to 80,000 households across the US. This aided to identify around 16,000 individuals with hearing loss.
Using the list of 16,000 individuals with hearing loss, more detailed surveys were delivered to the following two groups:
- A random sample of 3,000 individuals with hearing loss that presently own hearing aids.
- A random sample of 3,000 individuals with hearing loss that do not presently own hearing aids.
The seven page survey included questions about demographics, hearing loss, hearing aid use and satisfaction, future plans, and employment information. Each respondent was also asked several questions about their hearing loss degree, which produced one of four classifications from mild to profound.
With all of this data, the researchers could now:
- Compare income to the intensity of hearing loss
- Compare income to those who used hearing aids and those who did not
The results reveal that hearing loss impacts income
People with profound hearing loss were found, on average, to earn $12,000 less annually than those with mild hearing loss. The results also plainly showed that as the severity of hearing loss increased, income fell proportionally.
And the overall economic cost to society?
According to the study, the estimated cost of lost earnings due to untreated hearing loss in the US is $122 billion, which results in a projected $18 billion of uncollected federal taxes.
Having said that, all is not lost. The study also showed, most importantly, that using hearing aids was found to offset the income effects of hearing loss by 50 percent.
Implications for employees with hearing loss
Does the use of hearing aids really bring about a surge in income? Isn’t it possible that those who have a higher salary are simply in a better position to pay for hearing aids, so are consequently more likely to own and use them?
It’s a legitimate question, but there’s numerous reasons to believe that wearing hearing aids can, in fact, enhance income, through greater productivity. In relation to employment, hearing loss can:
- Take people out of the job market, or out of contention for promotion, creating higher levels of unemployment and underemployment.
- Cause people to make mistakes on the job, limiting promotions.
- Create communication obstacles, restricting productivity. Most jobs require effective verbal communication, and this is considered as a major aspect of job performance.
- Reduce overall social and mental well being, bringing about depression, fatigue, impaired cognition, and a corresponding decrease in job performance.
For these reasons, treating your hearing loss will most likely enhance your job performance, and, as a result, your earning potential.
What are your thoughts? Have you encountered problems at work caused by hearing loss, and have hearing aids helped?