Skip to content

Babies born in England and Wales had a father with an average age of 32.6 in 2011

Fathers tend to be older than mothers; average age of mothers was 29.7

Age of father and partnership status

Fathers tend to be older than mothers. In England and Wales in 2011, nearly two-thirds of babies (65%) were fathered by men who were aged 30 and over. In comparison, only half of babies (49%) were born to mothers in this age group. The average age of all fathers at the birth of a child has increased by nearly two years over the last two decades from 30.8 years in 1991 to 32.6 years in 2011. Over the same period, the average age of mothers has increased by a similar amount from 27.7 years to 29.7 years.

Men aged 30-34 had the highest fertility rate in 2011 at 110.5 live births per 1,000 men. Previously, men in their mid-to-late twenties had the highest fertility rate but were overtaken in 1993 by men in their early thirties. The same trend occurred among women a decade later, with the fertility of women in their early thirties overtaking that of women in their mid-to-late twenties in 2004.

Men often continue to have children at much older ages than women. There were 31,643 babies born in 2011 to fathers aged 45 and over (833 fathers were aged 60 and over). In contrast, 1,832 babies had mothers age 45 or over. In 2011, 41,818 live births (6% of all live births) were registered solely by the mother, so no information about the father was available.

Two-thirds (67%) of babies born to fathers under the age of 30 were jointly registered by parents who were not married or in a civil partnership. For fathers aged 30 and over, being married or in a civil partnership was the most common family setting for births to occur (68%) (Figure 1). Over three-fifths (62%) of babies born within marriage in 2011 had fathers aged 30-39. In contrast, only 35% of babies jointly registered outside of marriage or civil partnership had fathers aged 30-39.

In 2011, 90% of babies where the father was aged 20 or over were born within marriage, civil partnership or to a cohabiting couple. Where the father was under the age of 20, only 47% of babies were born within marriage, civil partnership or to a cohabiting couple.

Figure 1: Number of live births and occurrence within/outside marriage/civil partnership by age of father, 2011

England and Wales

Figure 1: Number of live births and occurrence within/outside marriage/civil partnership by age of father, 2011
Source: Office for National Statistics

Download chart

Where are non-UK born fathers from?

Just under a quarter (24%) of babies born in 2011 in England and Wales had fathers who were themselves born outside the UK. Of the 171,702 babies born to non-UK born fathers in 2011, one in nine had a father born in Pakistan, the most common country of birth for non-UK born fathers. Poland and India were the second and third most common countries of birth for non-UK born fathers respectively (Figure 2). The ten most common countries of birth for non-UK born fathers have remained unchanged, including their rank, since 2009.

Figure 2: Ten most common countries of birth for non-UK born fathers, 2011

England and Wales

Figure 2: Ten most common countries of birth for non-UK born fathers, 2011
Source: Office for National Statistics

Download chart

Socio-economic class of fathers

In 2011, the largest proportion of births inside marriage in England and Wales, were to fathers in the lower managerial, administrative and professional occupations (27%) followed by the higher managerial, administrative and professional occupations (20%). Examples of lower managerial, administrative and professional occupations (NS-SEC class 2) include teachers in primary and secondary schools, quantity surveyors and IT technicians.  Examples of higher managerial, administrative and professional occupations (NS-SEC class 1) include chief executives of major organisations, medical practitioners, legal professionals and architects.

The largest proportion of births that were outside marriage but were jointly registered, were to fathers in routine occupations (21%) followed by those in the lower managerial and professional occupations (16%). Examples of routine occupations (NS-SEC class 7) include van, bus and coach drivers, labourers and road sweepers.

Further statistics on fathers

In 2012, there were 5.9 million men living with dependent children1 in the UK. These men may be the biological, adoptive or step-fathers of these children. Nearly eight in ten of these fathers were married, a figure which has fallen steadily from nearly nine in ten 15 years earlier, as fathers are now more likely to be cohabiting. In 2012, there were 176,000 lone fathers with dependent children in the UK. This means that men accounted for 9% of lone parents, a figure which has changed little over the last 15 years.

1Dependent children are those living with their parent(s) and either (a) aged under 16, or (b) aged 16 to 18 in full-time education, excluding children aged 16 to 18 who have a spouse, partner or child living in the household.

 

If you have any comments or suggestions, we'd like to hear them. Please email us at: web.comments@ons.gsi.gov.uk 

Categories: Births and Fertility, Live Births and Stillbirths, Live Births, Population
Content from the Office for National Statistics.
© Crown Copyright applies unless otherwise stated.