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Handedness, Health and Cognitive Development: Evidence from Children in the NLSY

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Author Info

  • Johnston, David W.

    ()
    (Monash University)

  • Nicholls, Michael E. R.

    ()
    (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research)

  • Shah, Manisha

    ()
    (University of California, Los Angeles)

  • Shields, Michael A.

    ()
    (Monash University)

Abstract

Using data from the US National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, and fitting family fixed-effects models of child health and cognitive development, we test if left-handed children do significantly worse than their right-handed counterparts. The health measures cover both physical and mental health, and the cognitive development test scores span (1) Memory, (2) Vocabulary, (3) Mathematics, (4) Reading and (5) Comprehension. We find that while left-handed children have a significantly higher probability of suffering an injury needing medical attention, there is no difference in their experience of illness or poor mental health. We also find that left-handed children have significantly lower cognitive development test scores than right-handed children for all areas of development with the exception of reading. Moreover, the left-handedness disadvantage is larger for boys than girls, and remains roughly constant as children grow older for most outcomes. We also find that the probability of a child being left-handed is not related to the socioeconomic characteristics of the family, such as income or maternal education. All these results tend to support a difference in brain functioning or neurological explanation for handedness differentials rather than one based on left-handed children living in a right-handed world.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4774.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A (Statistics in Society), 2012, [Online First]
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4774

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Related research

Keywords: family fixed-effects; cognitive development; health; children; handedness;

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References

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  1. Anne Case & Darren Lubotsky & Christina Paxson, 2002. "Economic Status and Health in Childhood: The Origins of the Gradient," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1308-1334, December.
  2. Kevin Denny & Vincent O'Sullivan, 2004. "The Economic Consequences of being Left-handed - Some Sinister Results," Working Papers 200422, School Of Economics, University College Dublin.
  3. Ruhm, Christopher J., 2005. "Maternal Employment and Adolescent Development," IZA Discussion Papers 1673, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Kevin Denny, 2008. "Handedness and depression, evidence from a large population survey," Working Papers 200815, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  5. Laura Argys & H. Peters & Jeanne Brooks-Gunn & Judith Smith, 1998. "The impact of child support on cognitive outcomes of young children," Demography, Springer, vol. 35(2), pages 159-173, May.
  6. Paul Frijters & David W. Johnston & Manisha Shah & Michael A. Shields, 2009. "To Work or Not to Work? Child Development and Maternal Labor Supply," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(3), pages 97-110, July.
  7. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2008. "Stature and Status: Height, Ability, and Labor Market Outcomes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(3), pages 499-532, 06.
  8. Blau, Francine D & Grossberg, Adam J, 1992. "Maternal Labor Supply and Children's Cognitive Development," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(3), pages 474-81, August.
  9. Christopher S. Ruebeck & Joseph E. Harrington, Jr. & Robert Moffitt, 2006. "Handedness and Earnings," NBER Working Papers 12387, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Johnston, David W. & Shah, Manisha & Shields, Michael A., 2007. "Handedness, Time Use and Early Childhood Development," IZA Discussion Papers 2752, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2000. "Parental Employment and Child Cognitive Development," NBER Working Papers 7666, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Alison Aughinbaugh & Maury Gittleman, 2003. "Does Money Matter?: A Comparison of the Effect of Income on Child Development in the United States and Great Britain," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 38(2).
  13. David M. Blau, 1999. "The Effect Of Income On Child Development," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(2), pages 261-276, May.
  14. Susanne James-Burdumy, 2005. "The Effect of Maternal Labor Force Participation on Child Development," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(1), pages 177-211, January.
  15. Janet Currie & Mark Stabile, 2003. "Socioeconomic Status and Child Health: Why Is the Relationship Stronger for Older Children?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1813-1823, December.
  16. Janet Currie, 2008. "Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Socioeconomic Status, Poor Health in Childhood, and Human Capital Development," NBER Working Papers 13987, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Frijters, Paul & Johnston, David W. & Shah, Manisha & Shields, Michael A., 2010. "Intra-household Resource Allocation: Do Parents Reduce or Reinforce Child Cognitive Ability Gaps?," IZA Discussion Papers 5153, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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