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The Economic Consequences of Being Left-Handed: Some Sinister Results


  • Kevin Denny
  • Vincent O’ Sullivan


This paper estimates the effects of handedness on earnings. Augmenting a conventional earnings equation with an indicator of left-handedness shows there is a positive effect on male earnings with manual workers enjoying a slightly larger premium. These results are inconsistent with the view that left-handers in general are handicapped either innately or through experiencing a world geared toward right-handers. Left-handed females however are paid significantly less. The results are consistent with a range of mostly psychological evidence, which suggests that left-hander males have particular talents such as enhanced creativity.

Suggested Citation

  • Kevin Denny & Vincent O’ Sullivan, 2007. "The Economic Consequences of Being Left-Handed: Some Sinister Results," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(2).
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:42:y:2007:i2:p353-374

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Mueller, Gerrit & Plug, Erik, 2004. "Estimating the Effect of Personality on Male-Female Earnings," IZA Discussion Papers 1254, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Christopher S. Ruebeck & Joseph E. Harrington, Jr & Robert Moffitt, 1997. "Handedness and Earnings," Economics Working Paper Archive 533, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics, revised Jun 2004.
    4. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J., 2003. "Human Capital Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 821, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    6. Erik Plug & Peter Berkhout, 2004. "Effects of sexual preferences on earnings in the Netherlands," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 17(1), pages 117-131, February.
    7. Melissa Osborne & Herbert Gintis & Samuel Bowles, 2001. "The Determinants of Earnings: A Behavioral Approach," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1137-1176, December.
    8. repec:ucn:wpaper:10197/171 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Kevin Denny & Vincent O'Sullivan, 2004. "The economic consequences of being left-handed : some sinister results (version 2.0)," Working Papers 200422, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    10. Dearden, Lorraine, 1999. "The effects of families and ability on men's education and earnings in Britain1," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 551-567, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Frijters, Paul & Johnston, David W. & Shah, Manisha & Shields, Michael A., 2008. "Early Child Development and Maternal Labor Force Participation: Using Handedness as an Instrument," IZA Discussion Papers 3537, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Paul Frijters & David Johnston & Manisha Shah & Michael Shields, 2013. "Intrahousehold Resource Allocation: Do Parents Reduce or Reinforce Child Ability Gaps?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 50(6), pages 2187-2208, December.
    3. Alex Bryson & Bernd Frick & Rob Simmons, 2009. "The Returns to Scarce Talent: Footedness and Player Remuneration in European Soccer," CEP Discussion Papers dp0948, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    4. 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).
    5. Kevin Denny, 2006. "Cognitive ability and hemispheric indecision : two surpluses and a deficit," Working Papers 200612, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    6. Thomas Buser, 2010. "Handedness predicts Social Preferences: Evidence connecting the Lab to the Field," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 10-119/3, Tinbergen Institute.
    7. 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.
    8. Dennis Coates & Sungil Hong & Michael Mondello, 2011. "An Examination of the Effects of the Recent Economic Crisis on Major League Baseball (MLB) Attendance Demand," UMBC Economics Department Working Papers 11-136, UMBC Department of Economics.
    9. Hessels, Jolanda & Rietveld, Cornelius A. & van der Zwan, Peter, 2014. "Unraveling two myths about entrepreneurs," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 122(3), pages 435-438.
    10. David Johnston & Michael Nicholls & Manisha Shah & Michael Shields, 2009. "Nature’s experiment? Handedness and early childhood development," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 46(2), pages 281-301, May.
    11. Marcello Sartarelli, 2016. "Handedness, Ability, Earnings and Risk. Evidence from the Lab," Working Papers. Serie AD 2016-04, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
    12. Johnston, David W. & Nicholls, Michael E. R. & Shah, Manisha & Shields, Michael A., 2010. "Handedness, Health and Cognitive Development: Evidence from Children in the NLSY," IZA Discussion Papers 4774, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    13. Dennis Coates & Sara Azmoudeh Fard, 2011. "Returns to handedness in professional hockey," Working Papers 1121, International Association of Sports Economists;North American Association of Sports Economists.

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