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How Many Dads Does It Take To Screw In A Lightbulb? Father's Day By The Numbers

"Happy Father's Day" and "I love dad" written with paint brush. Making greeting card, holiday gift for dad
Father's Day, which started in 1910, takes place on the third Sunday of June every year.

When does a joke become a dad joke? That's easy. When it becomes apparent.Wait, don't click away. Are dad jokes tired? Probably. They've been walking all day to get here to this very post. But now that I've got your (perhaps somewhat annoyed) attention, consider this your reminder that it's Father's Day — or depending on the day you're reading this, Oops, you missed Father's Day. It's a day to honor dads everywhere, whether they be young or old, single or partnered, new to the job or seasoned like a favorite cast iron skillet. They could be a stay-at-home dad or the primary breadwinner. They could be your own dad, your kid's dad, a dad who has passed away or anyone in your life who plays that role for you. It's a day to do, well, whatever feels right to you and your family. But before you go celebrate, here are a few fun numbers that describe the holiday. Take them with you to the barbecue, brunch or whatever it is your version of dad does best.


Father's Day, it seems, has a mother. The idea for a day honoring dads is generally attributed to Sonora Dodd, a woman raised by her father after her mother died in childbirth, according to the Library of Congress. In 1910, Dodd was apparently listening to a church service on Mother's Day, which itself had only existed for a few years and was still unofficial, and she began to think about everything her father had done for her growing up. The first Father's Day celebration took place where Dodd lived, in Spokane, Wash., in June.


But it took a few more decades to really become official. In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed that the third Sunday in June would be officially known as Father's Day, saying that we look to fathers to "provide the strength and stability which characterize the successful family." In 1972, President Nixon made the day a national holiday.

75 million

There are 121 million men over the age of 15 in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Among them, 75 million are fathers to biological, step or adopted children. That's about 6 in 10 men. Most of them, around 61%, became dads in their 20s. Another 20% became dads between the ages of 30 and 34.

72 million

Father's Day is the fourth largest holiday for sending cards in the U.S., behind Mother's Day, Valentine's Day and Christmas, according to Hallmark. According to the greeting card company, 72 million Father's Day cards are purchased each year. About a quarter of them are considered "humor" cards, which is a nice segue into another dad joke: Two guys walked into a bar. The third guy ducked. You're welcome.

75 percent

This is the amount of Americans recently surveyed by the National Retail Federation who said they plan to celebrate the father figures in their life this weekend. About half of the survey's respondents said they were planning on buying a gift for their own dad — and those gifts are getting more expensive. On average, people surveyed said they're planning on spending $174 on Father's Day gifts, nearly double what people were spending more than 10 years ago.

7 percent

The percent of fathers who are stay-at-home dads is slowly rising. In 1989, about 4% of fathers were at home. By 2016, that number had risen to 7%, according to the Pew Research Center. In that same time frame, the share of mothers at home has remained relatively stable, at around 27%. In general, dads are more involved in child care now than they were 50 years ago. In 1965, fathers reported that they spent about 2.5 hours per week caring for children. In 2016, that number had jumped to eight hours.

1.7 million

Of the 35 million fathers with children under 18, 1.7 million of them are single dads, in that they are living with a child with no spouse or partner present, according to the Census Bureau. In total, 46% of dads have children under 18, the rest have adult children, and about 1 in 4 are grandfathers.


Because you've read this far, this is how many dads it usually takes to screw in a lightbulb. You didn't think I'd put a question in the headline and not answer it, did you?

63 percent

In a survey by the Pew Research Center, most dads said being a parent is rewarding and central to their identity. But 63% said they spent "too little" time with their children. So, if you have a dad in your life who's still around, make sure to call him soon.Or, as my own dad would say, don't call him soon, call him dad. Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.