Is there a direct correlation between how a person hears and how much money they make? In a perfect world, hearing impairment wouldn’t impact income, but studies show that untreated hearing loss does cost you. No matter what your career path, your ability to communicate is critical. Without hearing aids, those with significant hearing loss may struggle, especially if they are unaware of the problem or denying it. Consider some studies that show wearing a hearing aid might actually earn you more money.
What is Hearing Loss?
Is it just that occasional missed word or does hearing loss mean deafness? There are different levels of hearing loss, but what most people experience is a gradual decline in their hearing as they grow older. Typically, for research, hearing loss is classified into different categories such as:
- 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 Paychecks
So, how does untreated hearing loss impact income? In 2007, the Better Hearing Institute surveyed about 80,000 different families to answer that very question. They used the National Family Opinion panel as a conduit for their research.
Currently, more than 31 million people in this country admit to having some level of hearing loss and about 37 percent of them are within retirement age. What this means is 63 percent of these individuals with hearing loss are still part of the workforce. They bring home paychecks and, maybe, even attend school. Statistically, though, only 23 percent of those working with a hearing problem will wear hearing aids despite the fact that 95 percent of the time they do need them.
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.
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:
- 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.