Demographic and Socioeconomic Disparities in Life Expectancy With Hearing Impairment in the United States.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Hearing impairment is one of the most common disabilities among older people, and its prevalence will increase as the U.S. population ages. However, little is known about social disparities in onset or transitions into and out of hearing impairment, nor how these transitions impact years of life to be spent impaired.


We investigate the number of years an "average" person can expect to live with and without hearing impairment after age 50; sex, race, educational, and regional differences in these expectancies; and the implication of hearing impairment for remaining life expectancy. Bayesian multistate life table methods are applied to 9 waves of data from the Health and Retirement Study (1998-2014) to investigate social disparities in life expectancy with hearing impairment (n = 20,200) for the general population, people hearing impaired at age 50, and people hearing unimpaired at age 50.


Men, Hispanics, persons with less educational attainment, and those born in the south can expect to live a larger proportion of their remaining lives hearing impaired. Although transitions from hearing impaired to unimpaired occur, those with some hearing impairment at age 50 can expect to live more years with hearing impairment, and hearing impairment does not shorten remaining life expectancy.


Significant sociodemographic disparities in hearing impaired life expectancy exist. In contrast to past research, we find that hearing impairment does not affect total life expectancy. Future research should consider the consequences of hearing impairment for years to be lived with other age-related and potentially downstream health outcomes.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • West, JS; Lynch, SM

Published Date

  • April 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 76 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 944 - 955

PubMed ID

  • 32944746

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8063680

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1758-5368

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1079-5014

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/geronb/gbaa166


  • eng