From House-Hubbies to On-Duty Dads, Australian Fathers are Actively Parenting

Friday, August 23, 2013

Aussie dads are a diverse bunch. From workaholics to house-hubbies, McCrindle Research has crunched the statistics on what fatherhood looks like in 21st Century Australia... including what presents dad should expect to receive this Father’s Day!

A snapshot of fatherhood in Australia

20% of Australia’s population is made up of dads.  There are approximately 4.6 million dads in Australia, with an estimated 2.2 million dads currently with children aged under 18.  Of these, approximately 156,000 are single-parent fathers, who look after 228,000 children, which averages at 1.5 kids for each single dad.

Stay-at-home dads

ABS figures show that in Australia there are approximately 144,000 stay-at-home dads with dependent children. This means that of the 4.4 million dependent children in couple families where one parent is employed full time, 3% have a mother who is employed, while the father is not.

Fatherhood - a later life pursuit

There is certainly a trend of fatherhood becoming a delayed life stage, with the average age of a new father now 33.1 years of age! The Northern Territory and Tasmania are home to our nation’s youngest dads, with the median age of fathers at 31.5 and 31.7 years respectively at the child’s birth. However, Victoria and the ACT have the oldest dads, with a median age of 33.7 years at birth.

Time spent fathering the same... but roles are a-changing

While fathers spend roughly four hours a day caring for their children (the same in 2006 as it was 11 years before in 1997), the role of the father has significantly evolved. In a study conducted by McCrindle Research in 2010, it was uncovered that men under 30 are less likely to be adept at building a cubby house, fixing a tap or a punctured tire, but more likely to be able to change a baby’s nappy, bake a birthday cake, wash clothes and drop the kids off at school. In comparison, mum’s spend 8.5 hours caring for their children, up from just under 8 hours in 1997.

Work hard for the money

Our nation’s men are more likely to feel their work and family responsibilities are out of whack, with 16% saying these are rarely or never in balance (ABS, 2007). This could be due to the fact that men with children do not work any less than men without children – that is, 42 hours per week on average. This shows that while our dad’s are working hard, they still greatly value time with their greatest asset - their children.

Googling the perfect present

Interestingly, Google search trends show “Father’s Day” was one of the most popular searches in Australia... in June! Rather than it being about shoppers getting in early, this shows the globalisation of the day as the “when is Father’s Day” searches peaked in Australia on Sunday June 16 which was America’s Father’s Day and obviously many Aussies were caught unawares, thinking they had missed the day!

For those who got the date right, we can see some interesting trends in what presents people are considering for their dads. By using Google analytics and exploring what Australian’s are googling in the ‘shopping’ category recently, we’ve seen some interesting trends, and the search “gifts for men” and “father’s day gifts” are near the top of the shopping search terms. The top searches in the days before Father’s Day last year were:

  1. GPS navigation devices. This shows that perhaps dads today, though evolving in many ways, still share one fundamental attribute... that is, they’d still rather not stop and ask for directions!

  2. Soccer rose strongly in popularity in Australia and perhaps a dad or two is looking to get on field, with a sporting retailer specialising in soccer supplies at the top of the search list.

  3. Hardware and outdoors supplies rose to the top of the charts.

  4. For the rev-head dad, we also saw a car merchandise suppliers in the top ten.

  5. The traditional ‘socks and jocks’ approach seems to have moved online. In the weeks before Father’s Day 2012 we saw ‘shoe size conversion’ trending in Google search... perhaps dad got some fancy European loafers or German Birkenstocks!


ABS, McCrindle Research, Google Analytics 2012, 2013.

For further demographic analysis and the latest insights, visit our Resources Page.

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