Monday, April 02, 2007

On the Other Hand....

Handedness and Earnings

Christopher S. Ruebeck, Joseph E. Harrington, Jr., Robert Moffitt
NBER Working Paper, July 2006

We examine whether handedness is related to performance in the labor market
and, in particular, earnings. We find a significant wage effect for
left-handed men with high levels of education. This positive wage effect is
strongest among those who have lower than average earnings relative to those
of similar high education. This effect is not found among women.

Strange, but accords with my own crude "survey" observations. Sometimes, in meetings of faculty for committees or some other (for this purpose) random event, I'll notice that 1/3, or even 1/2 or more of the people present are left-handed.

This compared to a handedness proportion in the general population of 10% or maybe a little more.

So, among faculty, it is not clear why this would be true. On a baseball team, one can see why there would be a premium on left-handed hitters, or pitchers, up to a point. But faculty just LEAN to the left, not select for people who use that hand. (Yes, that was an attempted political joke).

To balance that, a fun fact, which I think is bizarre: Even if both parents are left-handed, the child has only a 25% - 30% chance of being left-handed. What the hell is up with THAT?

My favorite book on handedness, though now a bit dated: M.C. Corballis, THE LOPSIDED APE, Cambridge, 1991.

(Nod to KL, who is preternaturally EVEN-handed.)