When you start a family, you often want to be in the middle of life and in good financial shape. Fathers of firstborns are getting older. Biologically there are hardly any limits – is that a problem?

The fathers of firstborns in Germany are older than they were a few years ago. On average, men were 33.2 years old when the mother gave birth to their first child, as the Federal Statistical Office in Wiesbaden announced on Tuesday. Five years earlier, the average age was 32.8 years.

“Societally, that’s not a concern,” says Martin Bujard, research director at the Federal Institute for Population Research. “The couples think a lot, try to reconcile parenthood and life plans.” Many wanted to create a certain stability – for example financially, but also, for example, not having to move too often, to live together, to create a good basis for the offspring. “Besides, life expectancy is steadily increasing. Even those who become a father in their mid-30s can expect to see their grandchildren for a long time,” says Bujard.

Inge Seiffge-Krenke, Professor of Developmental Psychology, does not find the development alarming either. “Consider that training takes longer today, so the age at first parenthood is shifting accordingly.”

Age difference increases professional disadvantage for women

On average, men are still three years older than women when their first child is born. As the statisticians in Wiesbaden explained further, the women are on average 30.2 years old, i.e. three years younger than the men. It is not clear why women often look for older men and men for younger women. The expert estimates that this may simply be due to attractiveness and attraction. But it has consequences: “Between 30 and 33 there are often career leaps, which is an important time professionally.”

Men are therefore in a slightly better position professionally than women when the first baby comes. “And that increases the professional disadvantage of women later,” says Bujard. “The average age difference of three years often means a higher income, which has an impact on the allocation of parental leave and the time afterwards. The couples then often find themselves in a much more traditional distribution of roles than originally planned.”

Few older men find a significantly younger woman

But wouldn’t it be more relaxed if the men were much further along in their careers – and, for example, became fathers in their mid or late 40s? No, says Bujard. “You also have to take women into account.” For women of a similar age, it would be risky or impossible to become a mother. And that men of this age get a much younger woman who wants and can have children is very rare. “Some men underestimate that because celebrity examples in the media suggest that it’s easy to find a significantly younger woman. In real life, however, there are few examples where this succeeds. »

Even though men in their early or mid-30s, like women, find themselves in the rush hour of life, it’s usually not such a big problem professionally, says Bujard. “You always have to set priorities for children – and fathers usually carry fewer professional risks than mothers.”

Older fathers also fill their role very well

From a social point of view, however, it is by no means reprehensible for a man to become a father even at an advanced age. “That shouldn’t be socially sanctioned, there are enough other high expectations for people with children – this shouldn’t be added to that,” says Bujard. “Even fathers who are 50 or even 60 usually still fill their role very well, it varies from person to person.” And when a man is now an old father, that is perceived very differently by the individual anyway. “Chaplin also had his children at 60,” says Inge Seiffge-Krenke.

According to the statistics, of the nearly 360,000 mothers’ firstborns in 2020, 12 percent had a father aged 40 or older and 2.9 percent had a mother of that age. In 1.5 percent of the firstborn, the father was 50 years or older.