Can Your Dominant Hand Affect Your Pay



Ever since I was a little kid, I wished I was left-handed.  I use to try to write with my left hand, eat dinner with a fork in my left hand, even brush my teeth with my left hand.  I thought it would be fun to be different.  More importantly, since I loved baseball, I thought it would increase the chances that I would become a professional baseball player as a pitcher.  I even practiced throwing left-handed for a bit, but that didn’t last long as I was terrible.  


Baseball and Handedness

Statistically speaking, only 10% of the population is left-handed.  Men are more likely to be left-handed than women.  In the world of baseball, almost 40% of Major League pitchers are left-handed.  Have you checked out the latest salary figures of Major
League baseball players?  The average salary is currently $3.1 million.


I actually use to play baseball with two guys that got drafted to the Majors.  One was a right-handed pitcher, who got drafted in the 27th round.  He received a signing bonus in the tens of thousands.  The other was a left-handed pitcher, who was drafted in the first round.  He received signing bonus close to $2 million.  Can you see the premium Major League Baseball puts on talented left-handed pitchers?


Creativity and Handedness

In the 1990s, there was also a study that found that left-handers were more creative.  Think about it: Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein.  Each of them was left-handed.  But since the 90s, there has been further research pointing to the fact that left-handedness is not always ideal.


Pregnancy and Handedness

When my wife was pregnant, I use to tell her that it would be fun if our son was left-handed (of course, I had baseball on my mind).  She always countered with, “I hope not!”  That’s because she had read that mothers of children born left-handed were often exposed to unusually high levels of stress during pregnancy.


In my own research, I found one British study that demonstrated that the fetuses of extremely stressed pregnant women were more likely to touch their faces more with their left hands than with their right.  This could be one of the first signs of a left-handed child, according to researchers.  


Other evidence supports that theory, too.  In one 2008 Swedish study of moms and their five-year-old children, women who were depressed or stressed during their pregnancies were more likely to have ambidextrous or left-handed kids.  In other studies, babies with low birth weight, or born to older mothers, were more likely to be lefties as well.


Twins and Handedness

In addition, a 1996 Belgian study found that about 21% of twins, both fraternal and identical, are left-handed, which is twice the rate of the general population.  Scientists have not yet figured out why this is, yet.


Mental Health and Handedness

Left-handedness appears to be associated with a greater risk for a number of psychiatric and developmental disorders.  While lefties make up about 10% of the overall population, about 20% of people with schizophrenia are lefties, for example.


Myths and Handedness

There are a ton of old wives’ tales around being left-handed that have been passed down over the years.  The word “sinister” stems from a Latin word meaning “left”.  Middle Eastern people historically used their right hand for eating and their left for more unclean, digestion-related tasks.  My wife’s aunt was born left-handed, and while she was in grade school in Iran, she was forced to use her right hand.  The nuns at her school made it clear that being left-handed was not acceptable.


Money and Handedness

So, what does handedness have to do with money?  A study by Joshua Goodman, an economist from Harvard, says that left-handed people earn on average 10-12% less than those who are right-handed.  The gap in pay between left-handed and right-handed people was $2,500 for men and $3,400 for women.


Goodman also determined that the pay gap may suggest a cognitive disadvantage in terms of neurological wiring.  This is in conjunction to a manual disadvantage that exists in a labor market.


So, is all hope lost if you’re left-handed?  No way, or as Lee Corso likes to say, “Not so fast, my friend.”


College Education and Handedness

handednessEconomists from Lafayette College and Johns Hopkins University found that college-educated men who reported left-handedness earned 13% more than those who reported being right-handed.


Those left-handed men who completed all 4 years of college earned on average 21% more than their right-handed counterparts.  Interestingly enough, researchers found no differences between college-educated women in terms of handedness and earnings.


Only Subtle Differences

Some contend that there really aren’t significant differences between lefties and righties.  Dr. Yeo, professor of psychology at UT-Austin, believes this and says any difference is more of a scientific interest rather than practical information.


Dr. Yeo asserts that we shouldn’t make personality or health judgements just because of a person’s handedness.  That’s because success isn’t determined by handedness.  After all, 4 of the last 6 US Presidents have been ambidextrous or left-handed!


Are you left-handed?  Have you had any troubles dealing with this right-handed world?  Share your thoughts below.  

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  1. You always find the most interesting studies! I’m a righty and completely normal…:)

    But curiously enough, I have twin younger brothers. Their pregnancy was stressed a bit and my mom was on bed rest after 26 weeks! And they are left handed… Coincidence…? And I’m fairly certain their salaries are above average although they are only 27. Either way, very interesting!
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    • Thanks for sharing your first hand experience with your twin brothers. That’s fascinating to hear that some of the studies lined up with what you said.

      Additionally it’s too bad they weren’t great baseball players. They would have been set for life 🙂

  2. Interesting, I suspect there is not a difference, but the human brain is wired to see differences as larger theipn they are. In the cases of the syptatistics it’s probably the case of correlation does not equal causation. In any case I’ll ask a provacative question, my wife’s family tends to be ambidextrous. One of my sons seems to have this quality… what does that mean in he grand scheme of things?

    I’d still hat to be left handed, but more because it would make shopping for certain tools, musical instruments, etc more difficult.
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    • Wow your son from my research is in the 1%. This is pretty rare and normally individuals that are ambidextrous have the LRRTM1 gene. Some people say that Ronald Reagan was actually ambidextrous instead of left handed. So your son is in good company.

  3. It’s kind of funny because I was actually born left-handed. My mom basically forced me to be right-handed; I didn’t have much say in it.

    But! I’m still left-handed when it comes to non-writing tasks, like riding a bike or driving. I can’t do either of those with just my right hand, but it feels natural with my left.

    My mom did have severe anxiety in general, so it wouldn’t surprise me if that was the reason for the left-handedness. That’s interesting to know, though!

    I wonder if there’s research on lefties who were forced to be righties? 🙂 Anyhoo, I went to college and definitely make way more money than a lot of my peers, so maybe there’s some truth to this!
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…A Love Letter To Bota BoxMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Mrs. Picky Pincher!!!

      That’s fascinating that your mom made your right handed. I’d have to do some research but I’m sure there is some out there 🙂

      That’s awesome that study holds true that if you graduate college that you are more likely to make more money than your peers!!!

      Thanks for sharing your experience

  4. Hello from a lefty! *waves with left hand*

    I am an odd lefty, in that I do various things right handed. Unlike Mrs Picky Pincher, I write left handed, but hold cutlery, do the ironing, and use scissors just like rightys. I also don’t write by ‘hooking’ my hand round, which most left handed people seem to.

    My gran was left handed (forced to write with her right hand) and her gran was also left handed. Don’t know if that’s coincidence or if I’ll have a left handed granddaughter.

    I feel like I have zero chance of being a baseball player tbh. Fascinating article though 🙂
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    • Thanks for sharing Sarah!!! That’s fascinating that left handedness skipped generations in your family on your maternal side. I can’t say I’ve ever heard that.

      Thanks for sharing!!!

    • Thanks for stopping by Erik!!! I’ve never heard of being able to solve a rubik’s cube with the off hand better than their dominant hand. That’s amazing.

      Thanks for sharing!!!

  5. Right handed and left brained, no wonder I struggle with creativity. Haha! So interesting!

    PS – I’ll be taking a long break from posting on Tealmama (as priorities have shifted a bit at this time), but wanted to thank you for the support and know that I’ll be continuing to follow your blog — you’ve created a great site. You just might be seeing “Kelsey Restemayer” in the comments instead of Kelsey @ Tealmama. 🙂

    • I’m sorry to hear you’re taking a break. I always enjoy seeing what fantastic recipe that you’ll be whipping up the in the kitchen. I’m partial to the Norwegian recipes 🙂

      Thanks for continuing to stop by and share!!!

  6. That’s very interesting. I’m a right-hander who prefers to use my left hand for some random activities like cutting steak, picking up the water cup, or even swinging a bat.

    I wonder if there are any studies out there about people who were right-handed, but switched to being left handed. Did that affect their creativity? How did their brain functions compared to normal right-handers?

    Lots of cool things to think about in the universe.
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    • Thanks for stopping by Smart Provisions!!! I’ll have to do a little research and get back to you on that one. It’ll be interesting to see if it helps or hurts an adult in the long run to convert hands. Should be interesting to see.

      Thanks for sharing!!!

  7. Man those are some really interesting facts. You are so right about the left handed pitchers. They are in super high demand. Did the guys that you used to play ball with ever make it very far in the Bigs?
    Mr Defined Sight recently posted…2017 GoalsMy Profile

    • The right hander ended making it to AA before he got released. The left hander ended up breaking into the majors at 24 and play ten seasons as a starting pitcher.

  8. Great post, MSM! Very interesting. I’ve never given this much thought. I use my right hand for 80% of the things and my left hand is dominant for 20% of the things that I do in everyday life.
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    • Thanks for stopping by Michael!!! That’s really interesting that you are able to use your left hand for 20% of the tasks. I have to admit that I hardly ever use my left hand except when it comes to carrying things. My left arm for whatever reason is stronger.

  9. Lefty here. Strangely enough, I always played sports right-handed, because my eyesight in my left eye was (and is) worse. But all precision stuff has always had to be left handed. I remember having a 3rd grade teacher who insisted my (very bad) handwriting was better with my right hand and tried to get me to switch by putting my left hand behind my back. I got so frustrated because everything took so long and looked the same to me (but less smeared, I guess.)
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    • Thanks for stopping by Emily!!! That’s really interesting that you’re left handed but play sports with your right hand. I actually remember reading that Michael Vick use to play sports with his left hand but then use his right hand for all other tasks.

      Thanks for sharing!!!

  10. A fascinating article! I am primarily left handed, but might be considered ambidextrous. I write left handed, use scissors with my right hand, bat left anded, throw right handed, etc.
    When my grandfather was a child, he started writing with his left hand. His teacher saw it and she taped up his hand as punishment. When my grandfather got home from school, his parents were furious, and went and complained to the school.The school agreed that they would no longer tape his hand as long as he wrote with his right hand. Ever since, he wrote with his right hand but did everything else with his left hand.
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    • Thanks for stopping by Fred!!! You’re the 2nd person that said their grandparent was left handed and they are too.

      I find it amazing that you are ambidextrous as I would love to use both hands equally.

      Thanks for taking the time to share!!!

    • Venditte is a freak for sure. I would have loved to have thrown one pitch in the majors let alone being able to do it with both arms in phenomenal.

      Thanks for stopping by!!!

  11. Enjoyed this article. I’m right handed and like you always dreamt of being a southpaw. (Confession time) I tried to oh-so-subtly influence my daughter’s hand preference by putting crayons in her left hand. It didn’t take. She is right handed too. Sigh.
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  12. I had to click over from Pinterest because this article looked so interesting. I am a lefty as are a number of my family members. At one point, we were hoping for an entire side of the table so we wouldn’t bump elbows with everyone at holiday dinners! I’ve never found it to be much of a liability and now I’m very curious about the wage gap. As a woman, I figured there is a wage gap anyway, but it would really suck if I were doubly penalized for being left-handed. Although I’m not sure how they would know in a job interview or salary negotiation that I was left-handed. You don’t typically fill out any paperwork in those situations. I do think I am unusually creative, which has been a great advantage to me. I typically tend to approach problems differently, which seems to put me a step ahead of the plodding types who do exactly as they are told and not one bit more. I am usually the one in my boss’s office saying – maybe we should do…..

    • Thanks for stopping by Adrian!!! I’m glad that the Pinterest image caught your eye 🙂

      Sounds like you got the creative gene many people think run with left handers 🙂

      Thanks for sharing!!!

  13. Interesting article here MSM! As a left-handed guy I’ve always considered and been associated with being more intelligent as a result 😉
    Having said that I’m somewhat ambidextrous, playing tennis, squash, golf and cricket right handed and really only writing left handed so not sure how left-handed I actually am 🙂

    Interesting article here though and the one thing that annoys me is smudging when writing on the white board haha!

  14. Interesting post. I’m right handed. My wife’s left handed. Maybe our little guy will be ambidextrous. Haha!

    I do need to use my left had for certain things when I perform certain procedures at work, so I am quasi-ambidextrous. But I can’t write left handed or throw left handed. Maybe something I’ll work on in a future.
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    • Thanks for stopping by SRGO!!! It will definitely be interesting to see how your little grows up. My little guy is very right handed dominant. I try to put forks and spoons in his left hand and he automatically switches them to his right. So I’m not sure how ambidextrous he will be.

  15. Very interesting statistics! I’m right handed myself. I think it’s great to be left handed or ambidextrous. It’s certainly a big advantage in sports! When I play ping pong with a good friend, he always switches up his hand once in a while to confuse me!
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    • Wow your friend can play with both hands. I wish I had that talent with ping pong. I have a strong back hand would love to be able to switch the paddle midgame 🙂

  16. Fascinating information! My husband and I are right handed, but both of our children are left handed, girl first, boy second. My theory is that our son watched his older sister and adopted her ways, but I have no hard data to back that up. My side has a couple of relatives that are lefties, there are none on my husbands side. It did challenge me as a parent when I would try and teach small motor skills to my little ones.

    • Thanks for stopping by and sharing Anne!!! That’s fascinating that both you and your husband are right handed and both your children are left handed. Interesting theory on your son “deciding” to be left hand to be like his big sis. That’s awesome!!!

  17. I’m a righty. I always thought it would be cool to be a switch hitter in baseball, but never worked on my lefthanded swing enough to do it in a game. Who knew there were so many studies on handedness? Is there one that looks into why lefties can never put their hat on straight? Of course, now it’s become a trend and everyone in baseball seems to wear their hat crooked. Before CC Sabathia went with the almost sideways clown hat that made it super noticeable, you would always see those goofy lefties with their hats just a bit crooked 🙂
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    • Hahaha…I’ll have to check and see if there are any studies. I feel like back in the day Steve Avery from the Braves use to do that as well and figured that was just a lefties “style.”

      Thanks as always for stopping by!!!

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