What do Strom Thurmond, Mick Jagger, Luciano Pavarotti and Rupert Murdoch have in common?
They all fathered children after the age of 55.
Actually, if you exclude Mick Jagger, who fathered a child merely at 55, the others all did it after the age of 65. Thurmond and Murdoch were actually over 70.
But Old New Dads are not just a trend of the rich and famous. Today in America, there is a new and growing group of men who take Celebrex to go out and toss the ball in the yard, not with their grandchildren, but with their children.
In recent years, much fuss has been made about Older Moms, and how women’s careers plus advances in fertility treatments are prompting childbearing up to, and even past, the age of 40.
But what’s missing is attention to the Dads, who are also increasingly older, and who don’t face the same biological hard-stop that kicks in for most women around age 40.
In 1980 in America, only one in 23 births was to men ages 50 or older. In 2002, that share grew to about one in 18. At the same time, the birthrate among fathers aged 40-44 increased 32 percent; and among fathers aged 45-49, it increased 21 percent. It went up almost 10 percent for Dads 50-54. A similar trend can be seen in many Western countries, including Israel, the Netherlands, the UK, and New Zealand. Having a Dad who’s 62 at his child’s college graduation is now commonplace.
While the majority of children are still being born to men aged 20-34, the proportion of dads over 40 is skyrocketing.
Part of the reason is, of course, Older Moms. As women back-burner childrearing for the sake of their careers, their mates – who still tend to be a few years older – are likely to be the ones thumbing through Fortune, rather than, say, Maxim, in the ob-gyn’s waiting room.
Another reason is divorce. It’s well-known that half of marriages end in divorce, but it’s also true that men re-marry faster, and more frequently, than women do. Sometimes called “Do-Over Dads,” more and more older men are trying their hand at fatherhood a second time around, with a younger wife. (Reflecting that trend, vasectomy reversal is up something like 40 percent since 1999. And the urologists say men seeking the procedure are nearly always in their mid-forties or older, with new wives at least eight years younger.)
The third reason is a combination of biology and success. Old New Dads can still physically father children; they have more access to younger women; and they are more likely to have the means to support children later in life.