# Are 30% of all putative fathers who take paternity tests not the biological father of their children?

There is a 30% statistical figure quoted in several sites listed below that states almost one in three of the men tested are not the real father of the woman's child.

Today 30% of DNA paternity tests, nearly one in three, prove that the man involved is not the father of the child in question. 1.

DNA paternity tests show that presently 30% of all presumed fathers are not the biological sire of the woman's child. 2.

DNA paternity tests consistently show that nearly 30%, almost one in three, of the men tested are not the father of the woman's child. 3.

Of course, the men who take the tests already question their paternity, and for about 30 percent of them, their hunch is right. 4.

Instead, 30 per cent of the students discovered their dads were not their biologically fathers. 5.

So is it true that 30% of all putative fathers undergoing DNA paternity tests are not the biological father of the woman's child and if false, what is the true estimated figure?

• If you consider the fact that paternity tests are usually taken when there is already some doubt regarding the father, it would make sense for the statistics to be skewed this way. I know you address this, but it is nevertheless a problem. Apr 29, 2016 at 14:22
• It sounds like the real claim here is that 30% of men who feel that they need to check are not the "sire", not 30% of all fathers.
– Will
Apr 29, 2016 at 14:23
• In your fifth link, I'm having trouble finding the 30% figure. The only 30% I see is the 30-40% of women that are "unfaithful". Apr 29, 2016 at 14:27
• As per comments on my answer: do you want to know the stats for all men not being the biological father of their children, or specifically men who organise paternity tests to check their suspicions? Apr 29, 2016 at 23:09
• pericles316: Thanks for the clarification. Deleted my answer which was tackling the wrong question. (Hat-tip to @user5341 for explaining my error.) May 3, 2016 at 7:25

1. Estimates of 10 per cent to 30 per cent non-paternity rates are massively inflated figures which contribute to the myth of high misattributed paternity.

The number of children whose biological father isn’t their social dad is probably far smaller than you’ve been led to believe, although the 30% figure seems to be a zombie-statistic that refuses to die. Source: What are the chances that your dad isn’t your father?

1. The figure of 30 percent quoted by the media was based on findings of a nonpublished study by Dr Elliot Philipp from a small sample of parents.

The STUBBORN figure of 30 per cent comes from the published transcript of a symposium on the ethics of artificial insemination that was held nearly forty years ago, in 1972. “We blood-tested some patients in a town in south-east England,” Dr Elliot Philipp told the symposium, “and found that 30 per cent of the husbands could not have been the fathers of their children...” At this point Dr Philipp was interrupted by a judge, who observed that “surely the figure of 30 per cent must be a minimum?” The judge clearly understood that while blood tests could definitively exclude paternity, they could not definitively establish it. This is why experts in paternity testing generally speak of an “exclusion rate” rather than a “non-paternity rate” or “misattributed paternity rate.” Source: The fatherhood myth

1. A meta-analysis done in 2008 also showed a recent decline in nonpaternity rates in the western industrialized nations.

Across studies, the mean (and median) nonpaternity rate was 3.1% (2.1%). This estimate is consistent with estimates of 2 to 3% from recent reviews on the topic that were based on fewer primary studies. This estimate also rebuts the beliefs and hearsay data widespread among both the public and researchers which contend nonpaternity rates in modern populations might be as high as about 10%. Source: Recent decline in nonpaternity rates: a cross-temporal meta-analysis

A 2015 research paper also showed that based on findings from a Afrikaner population in South Africa, cuckoldry rate is probably in the range of 1%.

The rate of cuckoldry in this Western population was 0.9% (95% confidence interval 0.4-1.5%), and we argue that given the current data on historical populations we have to conclude that, at least for Western human populations, cuckoldry rate is probably in the range of 1%.

Also referring to a 2016 survey, the actual rate of cuckolds in the general population based on genetic testing and ancestor research is 1-2 percent.

The surprising result of these new studies is that human EPP rates have stayed near constant at around 1% across several human societies over the past several hundred years. Source: Cuckolded Fathers Rare in Human Populations

1. TL;DR: Research backed up evidence such as one previously mentioned by user Oddthinking and others show a non-paternity rate between 1% and 3% for the general population and as of 2008, the non-paternity rate reported by United States paternity testing laboratories was 25.9 per cent found in a group of people who have doubts about the paternity of a child or children.

Even so, it is striking that since the advent of DNA analysis, not one medical study in a Western country indicates a non-paternity rate of more than three per cent. Source: Rampant misattributed paternity: the creation of an urban myth

The best British study, published in 1991, suggests a non-paternity rate of about 1 per cent. A 1992 French study indicates a rate of 2.8 per cent. A 1994 Swiss study has a maximum rate of 0.78 per cent. A 1999 Mexican study comes in at 11.8 per cent. And the best North American study, published in 2009, proposes a rate between 1 and 3 per cent. There are no published Australian studies. Source: The fatherhood myth

These results marry comfortably with DNA estimates of misattributed paternity from samples that cross a broad range of societies which suggest the rate is between 1% and 3%, and with Prof Gilding’s estimate of between 0.7% and 2%. Source: What are the chances that your dad isn’t your father?

The lab tested nonpaternity rates also differ between regions.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the figures is that the non-paternity rate in Australian laboratories appears to be lower than the rate in American laboratories. Given that Americans are five times more likely to have a paternity test at all, this suggests that the extent of misattributed paternity is much lower in Australia than the United States. Source: The fatherhood myth

• :-( You said you were looking for data only on men who were concerned enough to take paternity tests, so I deleted my answer (which as about all fathers), but then you answered about all fathers yourself. May 3, 2016 at 12:12
• @Oddthinking-I have included your paper as a reference too in my answer since it is related to paternity testing and misattributed paternity rate. It is actually wrongly claimed to be 10% for general population and 30% or more for paternity testing, thats what my question was about! May 3, 2016 at 12:20
• Didn't you merely quote criticism of one study (which doesn't amount to disproving its findings) regarding tested fathers, and didn't offer any evidence of studies showing different results of fathers who take paternity tests with different outcomes. All your other links are to studies of general population, same as Oddthinking's answer, and don't answer your own question at all. The only relevant figure seems to be 25.9% but I'm unclear which source that one comes from (and it seems to be played down in your answer, instead of being emphasized as the only relevant #) May 3, 2016 at 14:02
• @user5341-The 25.9 number is specifically related to paternity testing by United States laboratories in a group of people who have doubts about the paternity of a child or children found in 'The fatherhood myth' article and that number is also well below the quoted number of 30% in the question. May 3, 2016 at 14:28