Are Dads Getting Older?

How the age of fathers conceiving a child has changed since the 1970s.

There are millions of new births in the U.S. each year in the US. To get an idea of scale, in 2020 there were 3.75 million births, which represented a birth rate of 11.4 per 1,000 people.  Of these 3.75 million, about 9% were born to fathers over 40 years of age. This begs the question: are fathers in the US getting older?

The age at which a man conceives a child (paternal age) is increasing in the US. There are a number of reasons why men may wait longer to have children, like financial reasons or waiting until after completing higher education.

One retrospective study published in 2017 analyzed the change in the mean paternal age in the US since 1972. It was based on data from 168.9 million live births between 1972 through 2015. The study showed that the paternal age has been rising, from an average age of 27 in 1972 to an average of 31 in 2017.

There are a number of reasons why men may choose to have children later on in life than previous generations did. It will be interesting to see how this trend continues over the next couple of decades.

Various studies have examined the effect of advanced paternal age on fertility. As it becomes clear that paternal age plays a bigger role than previously thought, there’s more of a spotlight on the risks of advancing paternal age in reproductive biology.