J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2017 Jan 1;60(1):182-189. doi: 10.1044/2016_JSLHR-H-15-0365.
PURPOSE: Hearing loss (HL) is pervasive and debilitating, and noise-induced HL is preventable by reducing environmental noise. Lack of economic analyses of HL impacts means that prevention and treatment remain a low priority for public health and environmental investment.
METHOD: This article estimates the costs of HL on productivity by building on established estimates for HL prevalence and wage and employment differentials between those with and without HL.
RESULTS: We estimate that HL affects more than 13% of the working population. Not all HL can be prevented or treated, but if the 20% of HL resulting from excessive noise exposure were prevented, the economic benefit would be substantial-we estimate a range of $58 billion to $152 billion annually, with a core estimate of $123 billion. We believe this is a conservative estimate, because consideration of additional costs of HL, including health care and special education, would likely further increase the benefits associated with HL prevention.
CONCLUSION: HL is costly and warrants additional emphasis in public and environmental health programs. This study represents an important first step in valuing HL prevention-in particular, prevention of noise-induced HL-where new policies and technologies appear promising.