You might have guessed from the name of my blog, but I think dads are super important.
And it’s not just me! The science and data backs me up pretty well.
So if you’re looking for some fatherhood statistics that show why dads matter, or just some fun facts and data on the importance and impact of fathers, look no further.
I’m always updating this list with the most fascinating, illuminating, and well-sourced dad facts I can find. If you’re here for Father’s Day or for researching an article about dads — welcome!
Number of dads (How many dads are in the world?)
So about how many fathers are there in the United States.
- There are 72.2 million fathers in the U.S. as of the latest U.S. Census. 1
- Some estates put the total number of fathers in the world at about 1.5-2 billion.
Gay dads & same-sex households
The growing number of LGBT marriages and households in the U.S. can’t be ignored. Here’s some really interesting data on where we stand.
- There are approximately 95,000 same-sex households with children in the United States, roughly half being male same-sex couples 2,3
- About 35% of same-sex families are formed through adoptions 4
- About 15 percent through a surrogate 4
- About 39 percent through a heterosexual conception 4
- About 2/3 of gay fathers report experiencing stigma and fear in social situations 4
- 1 in 5 gay dads report their children avoid forming friendships out of fear of teasing, bullying, or discrimination 4
Staistics on stay at home dads
More and more dads are staying home with the kids. Some by choice, others by necessity, but it’s a seriously growing trend that deserves attention.
- There are about 2-4 million stay at home dads, or around 6% of American dads 5,6
- 24% of these dads have chosen to be stay-at-home dads (and are not staying at home due to unemployment or other reasons) 5
Similarly, the number of men who run their own household without a same-sex partner or biological mother is growing, as well.
- 2.6 million households in the U.S. are led by a single father 7
- Comparatively, there were only about 1.2 million single dad households in 1990 7
- About 52% of single fathers are divorced, widowed, or never married.7
- 41% are living with a non-marital partner 7
- Only a small number of children of divorced parents suffer any long-term consequences of the separation 8
Importance and impact of engaged fathers
Having an active, loving, engaged dad around is key to a child’s development (though single mothers and lesbian couples raise perfectly healthy children, as well).
Children with the best outcomes in life often have great dads. Here are the facts.
- Genetically, all mammals (including humans!) more closely resemble their father than their mother 9
- Highly involved fathers lead to children with increased mental dexterity, empathy, lower sex-stereotype role beliefs and greater self-control 10
- Dad’s fitness levels are the best indicator of fitness & bodyfat levels in adolescent children 11
- Dads who play and roughhouse with their kids foster better emotional intelligence, memory, learning, morals, and ethics in children 12
- About 53% of people believe mothers do a better job caring for new babies than fathers 13
- Only 39% of fathers believe they’re doing a “very good job” at being a dad, compared with 51% of mothers 13
Fatherless homes, absent fathers & deadbeat dads
On the opposite end of the spectrum, having an absent or emotionally distant father can be disastrous for many children.
Here are the stats:
- 33% of U.S. children live in a home without their birth father 1
- Children without a father are more likely to show disciplinary issues 1
- 71% of high school dropouts are from a fatherless home 14
- 71% of pregnant teenagers come from a fatherless home 15
- Emotionally distant fathers correlate with riskier sexual behavior in children 16
The changing dad landscape
Dad-dom is changing a lot. Today’s millennial dads are a lot different than the Gen-Xers and Boomers that came before them, and they’re drastically different from their own parents in many key ways.
Here are some interesting insights into the changing trends:
- Only about 27% of dads are the sole breadwinners for their family, down from 47% in 1970 13
- The amount of time dads spend on childcare each week (8 hours) has tripled, and the amount of time spent on household chores (10 hours) has doubled, since 1965. 13
- Men have become increasingly more likely than women to change careers, decline a pay raise, move, or leave the country to better suit their family’s needs 16
- 52% of dads report showing more affection to their children than they received as kids 17
- 47% of dads play with their kids more than their parents did 17
- 46% of dads read with their kids more often than they recall being read to as a child 17
- 54% of dads say “I love you” more frequently than their parents did 17
I think the most noteworthy takeaways from this research are the changing attitudes about fatherhood men have in America. There’s more affection, more verbal expression, and higher engagement than ever.
It’s also worth noting that fatherhood is beginning to take on more and more forms. It looks different than it ever has. There are more gay dads, single dads, and drastically more stay-at-home dads than at any other point in history.
I think that’s pretty cool, and it will be interesting to watch these statistics and data points change over time.
What were your biggest takeaways?
More from Dad Fixes Everything
If you liked this list, I encourage you to check out some of my most popular posts:
- How to be a better dad
- 35 toddler activities you can do at home
- 65 reward ideas for kids
- Unique compliments for dads
- U.S. Census – https://www.census.gov/en.html
- Lifelong Adoptions – https://www.lifelongadoptions.com/lgbt-adoption/lgbt-adoption-statistics
- Rewire – https://rewire.news/article/2018/12/14/lgbtq-adoption/
- Reuters – https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-lgbt-gay-dads/gay-fathers-face-stigma-as-parents-idUSKCN1P92TS
- Pew – https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2014/06/05/growing-number-of-dads-home-with-the-kids/
- Zillow – https://www.zillow.com/research/stay-at-home-dads-20190/
- Pew – https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/07/02/the-rise-of-single-fathers/
- Scientific American – https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-divorce-bad-for-children/
- Science Daily – https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150302123253.htm
- Abramovitch – https://www2.ed.gov/pubs/parents/calltocommit/chap1.html
- NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10702180
- Psych Central – https://psychcentral.com/lib/6-benefits-of-roughhousing-for-kids/
- Pew – https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/06/12/fathers-day-facts/
- Fathers – https://fathers.com/statistics-and-research/the-consequences-of-fatherlessness/2/
- Furthering Fathering – https://www.furtheringfathering.org/fatherhood-stats/
- Huffington Post – https://www.huffpost.com/entry/ey-workfamily-survey_n_7206208
- Zero To Three – https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/1430-let-s-hear-it-for-the-dads