Man with mild hearing loss dressed for work with little bird made of money whispering in his ear.

Is a connection between hearing and income potential? In today’s world, hearing impairment shouldn’t make a difference, but research shows that it does play a role in earning. No matter what industry you work in communication is the key to success. Without hearing assistance devices, individuals with major hearing loss struggle, especially if they refuse to recognize the problem. Consider what the data shows about hearing aids and the ability to make money.

What is the Definition of Hearing Loss?

Does hearing loss mean you miss a word every once in awhile or does it indicate profound deafness? There are several levels of hearing loss, but the most common is a gradual decline associated with aging. For research purposes, hearing loss is categorized into several levels including:

  • Number of ears affected
  • Using the Gallaudet Scale — an eight-point scale based on how well a person interprets speech. For example, can you hear a whisper from a distance?
  • Using the Unaided Abbreviated Profile of Hearing Aid Benefit — A scoring system that determines how beneficial hearing devices are and how difficult it is to hear without them.
  • A subjective assessment of hearing ability — Based on a scale from 1 to 10

By creating set designations for hearing loss, researchers add consistency to their study.

How Hearing Loss Affects Income

So, how does untreated hearing loss impact income? In 2007, the Better Hearing Institute surveyed around 80,000 households to answer that very questions. The company used the National Family Opinion panel as a vehicle to conduct its research.

Prior to this study, they found that more than 31 million people in this country admit to having some level of hearing loss and only 37 percent of them were old enough to retire. In other words, 63 percent were still working every day and bringing home a paycheck, and some were even still in school. Statistically speaking, only about 23 percent of working individuals with hearing loss wear hearing aids even though up 95 percent of the time that is the recommended treatment.

In 2004, the Better Hearing Institute sent letters out to 80,000 members of the National Family Opinion (NFO) panel with a survey that focused on three main subjects:

  • Did they undergo physical screening for hearing loss
  • Did someone in the household have trouble hearing in one or both ears
  • Did that person wear a hearing aid

The NFO panel automatically collates the participants by market size, the average age of household and their income. The researchers used this data along with the responses to analyze the survey results. As part of the process, the study authors eliminated household members under the age of 18 or anyone else that was not designated as the leader of the household or a spouse. The results were:

  • 1,891 households with hearing aids
  • 1,954 households with hearing loss but no hearing aid
  • 39,420 households with normal hearing

They broke down the respondents further by the level of their hearing loss. For example, how many were profoundly deaf in both ears as compared to a person who could comprehend speech in most situations. Using this strategy, the study authors created ten separate groups with the first labeled mild hearing loss and the last used for the most serious cases.

What this one study found was the household with no hearing aids saw a loss of around 2.25 thousand dollars for every decile of hearing loss with the average set at around 20,300 dollars. The household that did use hearing aids, though, only lost about half that amount per decile with the average set at about 10,200 dollars.

Escalating Decline

In 2011, the Better Hearing Institute did a second study and estimated that about 34 million people in this country had hearing loss with around 60 percent still on the job. What they found was that a person working with unrecognized hearing problems struggled with:

  • Productivity
  • Job performance
  • Career success
  • Lifelong earnings

That person was also more likely to be without a job. The unemployment rate doubles for those with hearing loss when compared to both normal hearing and those who wear hearing aids.

Your hearing is essential for good communication that helps you excel in any job. It really is that simple. Hearing aids mean better communication skills for optimal job performance and, ultimately, increased income levels.

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