Hearing The Benefits Of Globalization In Your Ear – Forbes

The results are in.

Most Americans, it seems, are souring on globalization. A recent Pew Research poll, for example, found that a majority of the public believes that “U.S. involvement in the global economy” is a “bad thing because it lowers wages and costs jobs in the U.S.” Foreign policy experts, on the other hand, have the opposite view. Only 2% see globalization as a “bad thing” while 86% of them say it’s a “good thing because it provides the U.S. with new markets and opportunities for growth.”

Apple Watch Smart App ReSound RS Home LiNX2 RIE62 RIE 62

LiNX2 hearing aid and Apple Watch. (Image courtesy of ReSound)

While I would side with the experts here, I can hardly blame Americans for holding an anti-globalization view. The truth is that, while the positive effects of a more connected world are often difficult to see, it’s easy to grasp the loss of jobs when a factory moves to Mexico or a retailer decides to buy shoes from China rather than Maine.

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The plus side can be a complicated story. But a good example of the benefits of globalization can be found in, of all places, your ear.

It turns out that Denmark, a country with a population smaller than that of Missouri, is the world power in acoustics, or as it’s been called “the Silicon Valley of Sound.” Three of the six largest hearing-aid manufacturers are headquartered in Denmark; only one is based in the United States. Denmark is also a hub for acoustic research and home to such high-end audio entertainment companies as Dynaudio and Bang & Olufsen.

A Danish firm called GN Store Nord, founded in 1869 as a telegraph company, owns businesses that make headphones for call centers, audio-testing gear for doctors’ offices, sophisticated microphones and hearing aids. Hearing loss afflicts about one-fourth of Americans in their 60s and half in their 70s, but most do nothing about it. GN, through its Beltone and ReSound divisions, is trying to remedy that situation.

So, on one simple level, the Danes–with their clear global comparative advantage in audio–are not only employing thousands of Americans but also helping us hear better, improving quality of life and economic productivity. Veterans are especially afflicted with hearing loss, in part because of tinnitus, or ringing in the ear, a result of the gunfire and explosions of combat. The Veterans Administration is a major distributor of hearing aids to vets, dispensing one-fifth of all such devices in the country.

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