An empirical study of issues relating to hearing loss and hearing aid market
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The hearing loss population has been increasing consistently, yet the market rate of hearing aid penetration has remained relatively stagnant. This research is an in-depth study of the risk factors associated with hearing impairment using patient profiles and audiograms. Furthermore, it explores how demographic and socio-economic factors influence consumers' purchasing decisions and analyzes the impact of technology on the hearing aid prices. The study consists of three empirical essays. The first essay uses a probit model with marginal effect to determine the causes of hearing loss. Findings indicate that age, gender, ear infection, and diabetes are the most critical factors in predicting adult hearing loss. The results from the ordered probit models imply that these same factors are likely to result in a higher degree of hearing loss. The second essay employs two separate multinomial logit regressions for hearing aid style and signal processing scheme. Findings suggest that consumers with financial stability are prone to select the more stylish hearing aids. There is a negative relationship between hearing aid procurement and payment method. The third essay examines how functional and technical characteristics of hearing aids affect their prices using a conventional hedonic price method. Empirical findings show that signal processing scheme and style are the two most important determinants of hearing aid wholesale prices. On average, the price-cost margin for a typical dispenser is .352.