Right-handed people live an average of nine years longer than left-handed people according to a recent study comparing death and accident rates conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine.
The study, which was concluded last year, examined the death certificates of 987 people in two Southern California counties. Diane Halpern, a psychology professor at Cal State San Bernardino, and Stanley Coren, a researcher at the University of British Columbia, wanted to know why there are fewer left-handed people among the elderly population.
“The results are striking in their magnitude,” Halpern said. Halpern is right-handed.
According to the data, left-handed people were four times more likely to die from injuries sustained while driving and six times more likely to die from accounts of all kinds.
In addition, the study found that right-handed females tended to outlive their left-handed counterparts by six years. Right-handed males tended to outlive their left-handed counterparts by 11 years.
Why are left-handed people more susceptible to death? Halpern believes engineering is the culprit.
“Almost all engineering is gear to the right hand and right foot,” Halpern said.
“There are many more car and other accidents among let-handers because of their environment.”
The study, however, should be interpreted cautiously. Halpern noted that it is not a predictor of the lifespan of any individual. Females studied lived to around the age of 78 and 72 and males lived to ages 73 and 62.
Researchers initially believed that the difference in numbers could be attributed to the early 20th century in which most left-handed individuals were forced to switch in order to accommodate themselves to a right-handed world. Disproving their original hypothesis, Halpern and Coren found that the number of left-handed people alive paled in comparison to the number of living right-handed people.
“It’s important that mothers of left-handed children not be alarmed and not try to change which hand a child uses,” Halpern said.
“There are many, many old left-handed people.”