How many people are left-handed?
Across the world, one thing about left-handedness is clear: It is less common than right-handedness. Approximately one in 10 people is left-handed. The exact number was determined in a large-scale meta-analysis of data from more than 2.3 million people (Papadatou-Pastou and colleagues, 2023). In this analysis, it was found that 10.6 percent of people were left-handed across geographical regions. This average, however, does not mean that 10.6 percent of people are left-handed in every single country in the world. Some countries may still have practices of training left-handed people to write with their right hands.
A new study provides information about left-handedness in 41 different countries across the world
A new study that has just been published in the scientific journal “Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Biological Sciences” now provided interesting insights on left-handedness in 41 countries worldwide (Fernandez-Velasco and colleagues, 2023). In the study, data from 422,772 participants who participated in a larger study that uses the Sea Hero Quest app were analyzed. Sea Hero Quest is a video game aimed at collecting data for scientific studies. Volunteers can download this app to their smartphones and play it to contribute to research.
The main question of the study was whether left-handers and right-handers show differences in spatial abilities. This was tested using a boat navigation task in the Sea Hero Quest app. There were no differences in spatial abilities between left-handers and right-handers. Thus, left-handedness is not associated with any benefit or deficit in spatial abilities. In addition to these findings, the paper provided interesting information about the distribution of left-handedness across the world since it collected data from over 400,000 volunteers from 41 countries.
What are the countries with the most left-handers?
The top five countries with the most left-handers all had percentages well above the 10.6 percent worldwide average. They were:
- The Netherlands: 12.95 percent left-handers
- United Arab Emirates: 12.90 percent left-handers
- Israel: 12.88 percent left-handers
- Puerto Rico: 12.30 percent left-handers
- Philippines: 12.21 percent left-handers
If you wonder how many left-handers live in the US, the percentage was 10.9 percent, very close to the worldwide average of 10.6 percent. Given that about 331.9 million people live in the US, about 36,177,100 left-handers live in the US.
What are the countries with the least left-handers?
In contrast, the top five countries with the least left-handers all had percentages well below the worldwide average of 10.6 percent.
- China: 2.64 percent left-handers
- Indonesia: 3.39 percent left-handers
- Vietnam: 4.26 percent left-handers
- Hong Kong: 4.85 percent left-handers
- Taiwan: 5.16 percent left-handers
Thus, the average for China was almost four times smaller than the worldwide average of 10.6 percent. The scientist suggested this finding may partly be influenced by a higher attitude toward conformity in China. Moreover, they speculated that due to the high speed of industrialization in China over the last decades, it may have been more cost-effective to teach all pupils to use the same hand in class. Interestingly, all five countries with low percentages of left-handedness were in Asia.