Nature's experiment? Handedness and early childhood development

David W Johnston, Michael Nicholls, Manisha Shah, Michael Shields

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In recent years, a large body of research has investigated the various factors affecting child development and the consequent impact of child development on future educational and labor market outcomes. In this article, we contribute to this literature by investigating the effect of handedness on child development. This is an important issue given that around 10 of the worlda??s population is left-handed and given recent research demonstrating that child development strongly affects adult outcomes. Using a large, nationally representative sample of young children, we find that the probability of a child being left-handed is not significantly related to child health at birth, family composition, parental employment, or household income. We also find robust evidence that left-handed (and mixed-handed) children perform significantly worse in nearly all measures of development than right-handed children, with the relative disadvantage being larger for boys than girls. Importantly, these differentials cannot be explained by different socioeconomic characteristics of the household, parental attitudes, or investments in learning resources.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281 - 301
Number of pages21
JournalDemography
Volume46
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

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