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Harvard Economist: Lefties Earn Less Than Righties

CAMBRIDGE (CBS) -- A new study by a Harvard University economist says lefties generally make less money than righties, and they may be worse off in other areas of life, too.

Harvard public policy professor Joshua Goodman writes in the Journal of Economic Perspectives that there's a popular perception that lefties can be unusual talented -- for example, four of the last seven American presidents are left-handed.

But by using data sets from the United States and United Kingdom that show handedness, test scores and salaries, Goodman determined that lefties have 10 to 12 percent lower annual earnings than righties.

Median annual earnings for male lefties in the U.S. are about $2,500 lower than male righties, and female lefties make about $3,400 less than female righties, Goodman finds.

"Lefties exhibit economically and statistically significant human capital deficits relative to righties, even conditional on infant health and family background," Goodman writes. "Lefties work in more manually intensive occupations than do righties, further suggesting that their primary labor market disadvantage is cognitive rather than physical."

About one in every eight people are left-handed.

On cognitive skills tests, lefties also do worse. And the evidence that lefties are gifted with greater creativity is "fairly weak," according to Goodman.

The bad news for lefties doesn't end there.

"Lefties have more emotional and behavioral problems, have more learning disabilities such as dyslexia, complete less schooling, and work in occupations requiring less cognitive skill," Goodman said.


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