Working Paper 08/198 - abstract

Handedness and Child Development (PDF, 397kB)

Paul Gregg, Katharina Janke and Carol Propper

Left-handedness is historically associated with poorer outcomes for adults. Yet recent work has suggested that there may be positive labour market returns for left-handed males. This paper examines whether handedness is also associated with poorer outcomes for children and whether this differs by genders. The paper examines a wide set of outcomes for children as they age from 42 months to 14 years. We find the main penalty is not from being left-handed, but is from not having a dominant hand early in life. This penalty is larger for girls than boys by age 14, indicating that early deficits of non-right handed boys appear to fall as they age. For girls, being left-handed and especially mixed-handed at early ages is associated with persistent cognitive attainment deficits, mainly focused at the lower end of the ability distribution.

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