Older dads have 'geekier' sons who do better in school and work
New research from King's College London suggests that boys with older dads are more intelligent, less concerned about fitting in, and display more 'geek-like' traits.
While previous research has shown that children of older fathers are at a higher risk of some adverse outcomes, including schizophrenia, a new study published yesterday in Translational Psychiatry suggests that boys with older dads may actually have certain advantages over their peers in both educational and career settings.
The researchers from King's College London and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in the US collected behavioural and cognitive data from 15,000 UK-based twin pairs in the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS).
When the twins were 12 years old, they completed online tests that measured 'geek-like' traits, including non-verbal IQ, strong focus on the subject of interest and levels of social aloofness. Parents were also asked whether their child cares about how they are perceived by their peers and if they have any interests that take up substantial majority of their time.
Using this information, the researchers computed a 'geek index' for every child in the study. Overall, higher geek index scores were reported in the sons of older fathers. This effect persisted after controlling for parent's social/economic status, qualifications and employment. In addition, they found that 'geekier' children do better in school exams, particularly in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects, several years after their geek index was measured.
Dr Magdalena Janecka from King's College London says the study suggests there are benefits to having an older father.
"We have known for a while about the negative consequences of advanced paternal age, but now we have shown that these children may also go on to have better educational and career prospects."
Although the study did not directly investigate the role of environmental factors, there are a number of potential reasons why older fathers may have 'geekier' sons. For example, older dads are likely to have more established careers and a higher socioeconomic status than younger fathers, meaning that their children may be brought up in more enriched environments and have access to better schooling.