More Difficult for People with Hearing Loss to Retain Job

Editor: We’ve all heard that hearing loss affects all aspects of life, including employment. A recent study in Denmark has confirmed this fact, and provides some quantitative results. Here’s the press release from

Hearing problems significantly increase the likelihood of being outside the labour market and on disability. Males suffering from severe hearing loss are almost 30% more likely to be on permanent disability than normal hearing men.

Hearing problems are common. In Denmark, about 670,000 people aged 18 years and older suffer from hearing impairment. Among those in the labour market, 11% have hearing problems.

Even as many hearing impaired people do well in the labour market, the first part of the research project performed by the Danish National Institute of Social Research demonstrated that hearing problems significantly increase the likelihood of being outside the labour market.

Likelihood of early retirement

Hearing impairment particularly increases the likelihood among males of going on permanent disability, usually when they reach the ages between 50 and 59 years. Among women, hearing impairment results in many seeking early retirement.

A great part of the difference between the males and females leaving the labour market is that men generally suffer from hearing loss at an earlier age than women. As a result, males often receive disability before they reach the age of 60 years while women are more likely to experience their hearing impairment after they turn 59 when they become eligible for early retirement. The research also found general differences in the levels of hearing loss between men and women and in how they experience and cope with it.

The likelihood of a male being on permanent disability increases with the degree of hearing impairment. Thus, a male aged 60 years or older with a severe hearing loss of 85 dB is almost 30% more likely to be on permanent disability than a male without hearing loss. For a male with moderate hearing loss, the increased likelihood is a little less than 10%.

A similar general trend is evident among females. A female in her 60’s with a hearing loss of 85 dB is about 50% more likely than a normal hearing female to be in early retirement. For a female with moderate hearing loss, the increased likelihood is 15%.

The survey showed that more than just the clinically determined hearing loss has implications for the withdrawal from the labour market. Also decisive is the subjective experience of the hearing problems, and how the individual copes with them.

About the project

The numbers are based on quantitative data collected among 2,400 randomly chosen Danes, aged between 50 and 64 years.

The final stage of the Institute’s research project is an investigation into the cost to society, the businesses and the individuals affected.

Behind the project is a steering group comprised of CO-Industri, the Confederation of Danish Industries (DI), the governmental Labour Market Agency, the National Association for Better Hearing, GN ReSound and Oticon.

The complete research working paper is available at the Danish National Institute for Social Research website at