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Handedness, Time Use and Early Childhood Development

  • Johnston, David W.


    (Monash University)

  • Shah, Manisha


    (University of California, Los Angeles)

  • Shields, Michael A.


    (Monash University)

We test if there is a differential in early child development by handedness, using a comprehensive range of measures covering, learning, social, cognitive and language skills, evaluated by both interviewer conducted tests and teacher assessments. We find robust evidence that left-handed children do significantly worse in nearly all measures of development, with the relative disadvantage being larger for boys than girls. Importantly, these differentials cannot be explained by different socio-economic characteristics of the household, parental attitudes or investments in learning resources. In addition, using data from child time use diaries, we find evidence that lefthanded children spend significantly less time each day on educational activities than their righthanded peers, and significantly more time watching television. However, these behavioural differences explain less than 10% of the handedness child development differential. The results of this paper clearly show that handedness differentials are evident even in early childhood.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2752.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2752
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  1. Christina Paxson & Norbert Schady, 2007. "Cognitive Development among Young Children in Ecuador: The Roles of Wealth, Health, and Parenting," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(1).
  2. Janet Currie & Duncan Thomas, 1999. "Early Test Scores, Socioeconomic Status and Future Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 6943, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J. & Lochner, Lance John & Masterov, Dimitriy V., 2005. "Interpreting the Evidence on Life Cycle Skill Formation," IZA Discussion Papers 1675, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Kevin Denny & Vincent O'Sullivan, 2006. "The economic consequences of being left-handed: some sinister results," IFS Working Papers W06/07, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  5. 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.
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