By Laura Clark
Left-handed boys underperform at school but enjoy greater financial success in later life than right-handers, studies suggest.
They appear to adapt well to life in a right-handed world and end up earning around 5 per cent more per hour.
Researchers from Bristol University and Imperial College London tracked 12,000 children from birth to 14 and found that left-handers were behind when they started school and in tests at 11 and 14.
Actor Robert Redford - shown here in the 1998 movie 'The Horse Whisperer' - is a leftie
And academics at University College Dublin, who studied 18,000 men and women in their thirties, found that left-handers earn £1,112 more per year, 5 per cent extra.
Around 10 per cent of people are left-handed, a phenomenon more common among men than women.
Until quite recently, left-handedness was seen as sinister, the Latin word for left. Some children were even forced to switch to their right side by their teachers or parents.
Robert Redford, for example, started life as a left-hander but now writes with his right hand.
Professor Carol Propper, who co-authored the Bristol study, said her research suggested that the idea that left-handers were more often highly intelligent was wrong.
The study also found that any difference in the attainment of right and left-handed boys at school by the age of 14 was probably explained by some trauma early in life.
The researchers found no pure 'left-handed effect' - either positive or negative - although the study said 'a minority of left-handers may have brain advantages that have positive pay-offs in later life'.
Left-handed boys were found to be slightly behind at the start of school before beginning to catch up. The findings from both studies were not so positive for left-handed women. Researchers found that they were not only behind at school at 14 but go on to earn 4 per cent less than right-handed female colleagues.
'Our findings might provide a possible answer to the paradox that at early ages left-handed boys suffer, while in terms of earnings as adults, they do better than their right-handed counterparts,' the Bristol study said.
'It may be the case that non righthanded children experience problems early in life, because they have not fully adapted to being in a right-handed world but that once they adapt - at least if they are male - they do better.'
Dr Kevin Denny, who worked on the Dublin study, theorised that a section of the brain which divides the left hemisphere from the right appears to be larger in left-handed men and could point to improved communication.
'We cannot be exactly sure why these differences occur but one explanation is that the corpus callosum - the information superhighway which helps the two hemispheres of the brain communicate - is significantly larger in left-handed men, compared to their right-handed colleagues and women,' he said.
'However, it is a long way to go from the structure of the brain to the labour market.