Older fathers have more intelligent, ‘geekier’ sons, study finds

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LONDON — Many aspiring parents don’t wait too long to have kids thanks to the various studies pointing to health risks associated with older age and conception. But a new study finds that boys born to older fathers tend to be geekier — that is, show greater intelligence while worrying less about what others think of them personally.

Researchers at King’s College in London examined 15,000 twin pairs who participated in the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS) conducted at the university. They hoped to find whether paternal age at conception played a role in the “geekiness” of a father’s male offspring.

Boy reading book
A new study finds that older dads are more likely to have “geeky” sons, that is, boys who are more intelligent and don’t worry about what others think about them.

Participants in the study, all of whom were 12 years of age, were asked to complete questionnaires measuring various “geek-like” traits often associated with gifted individuals, including non-verbal IQ score, level of social aloofness, how much they worry about the way others view them, and interest in closely studying particular fields.

After external factors were controlled for, the researchers found that boys born to older fathers were generally geekier than their peers, which often manifested in better school performance, even years after the questionnaire had been taken. The finding held especially true for boys in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects.

“Our study suggests that there may be some benefits associated with having an older father,” says lead researcher Dr. Magdalena Janecka in a university press release. “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.”

One possible explanation for the researchers’ findings is that older fathers tend to be of better socioeconomic status, which enables their sons to grow up in a more enriched environment, augmented by better schooling.

The researchers hope that further research can explore the interrelatedness of variables such as increased paternal age and a geeky personality with autism.

They note that both extraordinary biological and environmental factors can result in offspring being on the spectrum, and that high IQ and autism often go hand in hand.

The study’s findings were published in the journal Translational Psychology.


  1. Studies have shown that intelligence is genetic, environment plays some limited factor as does nutrition, but the majority factor is genetics. Just like some families are musically inclined, others athletic… some are intellectual.

    Not politically correct but reality doesn’t bend to progressive fantasies.

    Perhaps the result in this study is epigenetic?

  2. Raising a child takes energy, alot of energy. Playing with them, running with them, playing ball with them. It has my experience that older parents don’t bother and their children spend less time playing and running, thus more time spent doing other things. All my kids are full scholarship winners, one valedictorian, all three were great athletes as well as students. Leadership can’t be taught from books. All this from a father with a high school diploma. Nothing in history changes, you only get what you put into it.

    1. Whether your diploma is from High School or harvard it really doesn’y say much about your intelligence either way. I grew up in the late forties, fifties, sixties and I spent lots of time outside, running, climbing sports, growing up in New York City. My father didn’t play with me terribly much if at all as he was forty-five when i was born… tangent tangent.
      The point is that intelligence does not correlate directly with educational level nor achievement in the world. Personal values. Responsibility, willingness to work hard, dedication to a goal don’t tend towards quantification like “IQ” but they mean as much if not more in terms of successful human outcomes.
      Congratulations to you, dad (not mine).

  3. Mothers under 16 also have lower IQ children according to extensive research with cultural factors eliminated in long term studies. Medicine has taught for decades that an under age girl with an infantile uterus provides less oxygen and nutrients.Books in nursing caution to expect ten times the physical and medical problems in young mothers. One study in which I participated was ignored for political reasons as were all other studies. Perhaps we should check the age of the mother with the age of the father as that may be a factor.

  4. So, what age are they calling “older?” The article doesn’t specify. And, I doubt it is just the age of the father alone, but probably has a lot to do with socioeconomics of the father at that stage in life as well.

  5. Did this study control for fathers siring children later in life being more likely to be above average in intelligence? If you are gifted (130+ IQ with SD of 15) you likely spent many more years in school, University, graduate and professional school(s) before having children compared to cognitively average fathers.

    1. so you are saying all older fathers are gifted ? I doubt that is the case. older fathers provide more genetic mutations than younger fathers. and the mutations are in most cases for the benefit of the child

  6. While this is an interesting finding and an odd take on “geekiness” I wonder if these sons don’t simply reflect the nature of the fathers.
    What about the daughters?
    I was born when my father was 45, played football, lifted weights, got in fights and didn’t give much of a sh!t what other people, apart from pretty girls, thought of me.
    My sister was born three years later and did everything my parents hoped and expected of me but she too was quite smart and “geeky” in the sense that school was important to her. She got “A”s because she cared, I got As and Bs because I didn’t.

    1. the older fathers had no effect on the daughter’s intelligence I read on another article for this study. so no if it doesn’t effect the daughter as well as the son then you can’t really say that reflects the father. its from genetic mutations from the older father that are beneficial to the son.

  7. Most of these “studies” are DUH. Taxpayer funded? And didja know that sweltering summer heat can cause sweat (perspiration).

  8. Just having the same father around means jr. beats out most of the competition, for anything. Father hanging around until late middle age is so darn rare, kid can’t help benefit.

      1. There’s two regular PSAs on local radio, one telling how children are starving to death in the US and everywhere while the other says kids and adults as well are all too fat.

  9. Actually older fathers tend to pop more vitamin pills like older mothers pop prenatals because doctors push for better quality sperm & egg respectively. Redo the study with these parameters. Also older parents have better access to specialist care.

  10. That’s because older fathers r not as immature or “high school” as younger dads. DADS R a YUGE influence on kids! older dads=less likely to care about popularity & more likely to care about Banking $$$

  11. I held off getting married until I knew I could afford a divorce.
    Now that I can afford a divorce, I’m too wise to get married.
    But this study says I’ll sire geniuses because I’ve become a smart _uck.

  12. Or daughters?? I was said to have a 167 IQ from a test when young.. I didn’t have kids until i was over 30. Both are girls and both are extremely smart but the first one is for sure a genius without even getting her tested.

  13. Smart guys tend to have kids later. It’s Genetic.

    Gangbangers, on the other hand, need to have children early before they end up in prison

  14. Wonder how many of these kids are “only” children, too. They get all the attention of their parents—they don’t have to share it. They can converse with adults too.

    1. I have an only child and we never baby’ed him. Instead he was treated like a conversing adult and never had a sibling to keep him down in baby talk. He is more mature than his 8th grade classmates, thats for sure. Excellent grades too, cant complain with all As and a B. (darn common core math)

      1. Wait until next year. Mine was on the honor roll in 8th grade. Puberty changed everything. His head is finally getting free from his sphincter. The oxygen is coming back and he is turning back to a human. He starts college in the fall.

    2. When my wife and I got married, I was 27 and she was 34. We had our son the next year. He’s an only child, autism spectrum (high functioning), and early on he was deemed very smart. He is hyperlexic and also likes math. He’s also emotionally immature for his age. He’s also home schooled.

          1. This study appears to be about older fathers. While your wife is, from a reproductive point of view, older women are not mentioned in the study.
            My mother was in her 30s when she had me, three years later my sister. My father was 45.
            Your family i=has no relation to the study.
            My wife thinks I’m smart and high-functioning autistic.

    3. not really relevant at all. IQ is the most important factor in this study. cause you can give a dumb kid all the nurturing in the world and it won’t make him smarter

  15. Offspring of old parents have sharper teeth and therefore are better suited to biting the heads off of chickens.

      1. That might help explain the infamous and regrettable “lizard incident” I had in grade school that got me suspended and caused my family so much grief.

        1. Zippy en I didn’t get out much. Chicken heads en lizards was our favorites. What’s grade school?

  16. I guess they’re not going to examine the percentage of older-father offspring who place along the ASD scale…

    1. Agreed; I think this is their “nice” way of saying that older fathers produce more offspring on the ASD scale. “Geekier” was the chosen euphemism. I think more well-rounded children are a better bet than geekier children.

      1. “Older” mothers, too. I think there are higher instances of children with ASD among “older” parents.

    2. It sounds like you already know the answer. I’d even take it one step further, the older fathers themselves probably rate a bit higher on the ASD scale. What we might disagree on, if I might read in to your words a bit, is if being higher on the ASD is a problem.

      I assure you, it’s not. It’s just normal human variation. It’s not a condition that needs attention, let alone treatment.

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