Handedness, Time Use and Early Childhood Development

23 Pages Posted: 26 Apr 2007

See all articles by David W. Johnston

David W. Johnston

Monash University

Manisha Shah

UCLA Department of Public Policy; NBER

Michael A. Shields

University of Melbourne - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: April 2007


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.

Keywords: handedness, child development, child time use, parental characteristics

JEL Classification: J13, I21

Suggested Citation

Johnston, David W. and Shah, Manisha and Shields, Michael A., Handedness, Time Use and Early Childhood Development (April 2007). IZA Discussion Paper No. 2752. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=982621

Manisha Shah

UCLA Department of Public Policy ( email )

Box 951656
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1656
United States

HOME PAGE: http://publicaffairs.ucla.edu/manisha-shah

NBER ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Michael A. Shields (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne - Department of Economics ( email )

Victoria 3010, 3010
+61 3 8344 4656 (Phone)
+61 3 8344 6899 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

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