The Hearing Impaired & Deaf Population
of New Zealand - Summary
- 10.3% of the population
(390,600) report having a hearing loss of some degree.
- 9.8% of the
non-institutionalised population (368,600) report having a hearing loss of
- 6.6% of the population
(250,300) report having a disability caused by hearing loss
- 0.7% of the adult
population (2,620) report disability attributed to deafness
- National Audiology Centre
figures show that about 8% of children start school with hearing loss. This is
an improvement of about 3% over the last decade, coinciding with the
introduction of screening including tympanometry. The highest rate of school
entrant hearing loss is among Pacific Island children (15%) closely followed
by Maori children (13.5%). The failure rate of children of other ethnic groups
is significantly lower (5%). Over the last decade there has been an
improvement for Maori children of about 2%, and for “other” children 3%. There
has been no improvement for Pacific Island children.
- 0.24% of children (2,800)
wear hearing aids. Maori children are more likely than others to have
permanent hearing loss requiring them to use hearing aids. The cause of this
difference appears to be genetic.
- People over 65 are three
times more likely to have hearing loss than younger adults.
- Men are much more likely
than women to suffer from hearing loss. 90,400 more men than women report
hearing loss, and 31,500 more men than women report disability caused by
- The difference in hearing
problems between men and women first emerges in the age-group 25-44 years.
- Comparing the NZ data with
the British study on hearing, it appears that the cause of the difference in
hearing problems between men and women is occupational noise exposure.
- Because women live longer
than men, the absolute numbers of men and women over 75 years with hearing
loss are about the same.
- By far the greatest public
health problem related to hearing loss is occupational noise.
- Between 1981 and 1996 there
was a decrease in the proportion of people employed in potentially noisy
sectors of the economy from 45% to 36% - so there is some hope that in the
future not as many men will develop hearing loss.
Anne Greville PhD
PO Box 26 506
0800 87 11 00 or: +64 27 281 3072
Fax: +64 9
Click for full report
(Microsoft Word format)
This study was
supported by the Oticon Foundation of New Zealand