Are you waiting until later in life have kids? According to a recent study, older dads have boys that are geekier than their peers. So, holding off on children might be a great option if you want to increase your chances of having a boy with smarts.
But what does ‘geeky’ even mean? Scientists at the Seaver Autism Center for Research and London’s Kings College characterize geekiness as being highly focused on chosen interests, having a high IQ, and a tendency to feel less concerned with social status.
These findings are based on a test of 15,000 12-year old twins who were rated based on their non-verbal IQ scores, their parents’ assessment of their social inclinations, and their focus on interests. From this information, the researchers produced a “geek index score” for each participating child and compared it to their parent’s age.
Their findings, published in the Translational Psychiatry journal, found a correlation between the geekiness of boys and the age of the father, and a strong positive correlation between older fathers and geekier sons. They also found the fathers older than 45 had sons with the geekiest traits.
The question that remains is what makes older fathers produce smart boys with strong interests? Researchers have no idea, but there are a few theories. It could be that older dads themselves are more inclined to focus on their careers and be socially aloof, thereby passing those genes to their boys. It might also be that men over 45 have more economic resources and therefore have more time to spend exploring hobbies and learning experiences with their sons.
The geeky correlation wasn’t as pronounced for girls than for boys, but autism was linked to older fathers. This is interesting because boys are far more likely to experience autism than girls, and some of the symptoms of autism overlap with the geekiness traits.
Girls with older fathers could be just as geeky as their male peers, but researchers say that they may not have measured geekiness in a way that effectively captures how it manifests in girls in this current study.
This study is important in the fight to lift the stigma from older dads. There are many benefits to having children later in life, and the possibility of smarter children is a great one.