June 11, 2013

5 facts about fathers

The Census Bureau estimates that last year there were about 189,000 stay-at-home dads, defined as married fathers with children younger than 15 who stayed out of the labor force for at least one year primarily to care for the family while their wife works outside the home. Those dads cared for an estimated 369,000 children.

Fathers have nearly tripled the amount of time they spend with their children, from 2.5 hours in 1965 to 7.3 hours per week in 2011, according to a Pew Research report that analyzed years of time-use data. Despite that increase, 46% of fathers said they spent too little time with their children, compared with 23% of mothers who said the same; half of dads said they spent the right amount of time.

In 2009 there were about 2.4 million custodial fathers (that is, raising their children while the mother was living elsewhere), versus 11.2 million custodial mothers, according to a Census Bureau report. About 619,000 custodial fathers were due child support; collectively, they received about $1.9 billion.

More than three-quarters of new fathers took one week or less off from work after the birth or adoption of their most recent child, according to a 2011 Boston College study of fathers at four large companies; 16% didn’t take any time off at all. Most new mothers at the same companies took anywhere from six to 12 weeks off. Of those who took time off, 92% of fathers said they had a positive experience being with their child during that time.

father time off

Forget the ties, “World’s Best Dad” T-shirts and other clothing clichés: According to a 2012 poll from market-research firm Ipsos, most dads would prefer to either spend quality time with their families on Father’s Day (40%) or receive no gift at all (22%). Gift cards were a distant third, at 13%.

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Family Roles, Parenthood

  1. Photo of Drew DeSilver

    is a senior writer at Pew Research Center.


  1. trishjw4 years ago

    We have to remember that many companies and corporations do not allow anyone–mothers or fathers –to take time off for their children for more than a couple of days for illness or doctor’s appt. Until we make it mandatory that all companies allow paid leave many will not take time out. They can’t afford it. They also are not ones making $75K or more. Could you do it if you made $12 hour???

    1. Kevin Pennant4 years ago

      Well said.

      1. Gwirl4 years ago

        I agree trish; most work places worry about just the job and getting it done even at the expense of family and home life. They also require people to keep house hold issues at home, not in the work place -fair. In that case it should be a coorporate concern to allow people to maintain thier home lives as-well as thier work lives. I think families would also benefit from allowing working men to have maternity leave longer than a week. It does take two to make a baby(-ies) after all. Thanks Desilver, this information reflects my own upbringing.

        1. Unclebiffy4 years ago

          I agree! As a matter of fact I’m not sure why companies require parents to work at all. I mean, wouldn’t it benefit families to watch their children full time rather than have someone else do it? It’s not like employers don’t have enough money right? I mean who cares if they can’t produce a good or service because all of their employees are home taking care of their families rather than working. Ask yourself, have you ever heard of a company going out of business because their costs exceeded their revenue? We should pass a law!

    2. Squid4 years ago

      You’d think that with nine months advance notice, plus whatever amount of time they spend making the attempt, a lot of guys could arrange to build up or otherwise arrange some vacation time. As an employer, I’m not going to have a lot of sympathy for the guy who asks for additional time off to be with his new kid, when I know damn well that he just took a week off to go on a fishing trip.