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Happy (Grand)Father’s Day? The rise of the older dad

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), April 2014 – March 2015 (n=1,006). Base: Australian fathers 18+ with children under 16 living at home

Paul McCartney had one when he was 61, Clint Eastwood managed one at 66, and Australia’s own Gary Sweet fathered his youngest child at the age of 57. Are we living in the age of the mature-age dad? The latest findings from Roy Morgan Research reveal that the proportion of fathers aged 50+ with children under-16 at home is on the rise.

As of March 2011, 11.8% of Australian fathers with kids under 16 living at home were 50 years or older. Fast forward to March 2015, and that figure has risen to 14.2%. It may not sound like much, but that’s a proportional growth of 20%. (In contrast, the proportion of mothers 50+ with kids under 16 at home has stayed static, at 7.5%.)

Australian fathers with kids under 16 at home: by age


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), April 2014 – March 2015 (n=1,006). Base: Australian fathers 18+ with children under 16 living at home

While fathers aged 50+ are slightly less likely than their younger counterparts to be married (81% vs 84.2%), a greater proportion are in de-facto relationships (10% vs 8.4%), separated or divorced.

But if you think an older father is a stricter father, think again: dads aged under-50 are more likely than those over 50 to agree with the statement ‘Obedience and respect for authority are the most important virtues children should learn.’

Aussie fathers compared: under-50s vs 50-plus


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), April 2014 – March 2015 (n=1,006). Base: Australian fathers 18+ with children under 16 living at home

Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“While a woman’s ability to conceive a child is limited by biology, men have been known to father kids into their 90s!

“However, although mature-aged fatherhood may be something of a celebrity sport these days, it actually appears to be on the wane in Australia: currently just 4.8% of 50-plus fathers have kids at home aged between 0-2 years, down from 7.5% in 2010.

“So why is the proportion of older dads growing? A number of factors are at play: all the fathers who have graduated from the under-50 age bracket in 2011 to the 50+ category in 2015, for starters; as well as a distinct decrease in younger dads. Not only has the proportion of young men aged 18-24 with children under 16 at home more than halved in the past few years, but there have also been declines in the proportions of dads aged 25-34 and 35-49 with kids at home.

“And why has there been no corresponding growth in the proportion of 50-plus mothers with kids under-16 at home? While older men often re-partner with younger women and have kids with them, this is not so common for similarly aged, divorced or separated women entering into later-life relationship (although of course they may find themselves living with their new partner’s kids, just as nothing’s stopping them from finding a younger partner!).

“The upshot of all this is that the average age of Australian fathers is slowly creeping up, and is currently 41.55 years (compared with 41.24 years in 2011 and 39.21 in 1997). Whoever said that 50 is the new 40 may well have been right…”

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About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%