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Older Is Wiser: Study Shows Software Developers' Skills Improve Over Time

A middle-aged man giving the thumbs-up sign.

A new study suggests older programmers may have a slight edge over their younger peers, in terms of breadth and depth of knowledge, in some cases.

Credit: Colourbox

A study by researchers at North Carolina State University (NCSU) suggests older programmers are keeping up with changes in the field and even have a slight edge over younger peers in some cases.

The team examined the profiles of more than 80,000 programmers, as well as their reputation scores on a site called StackOverFlow. The findings show that an individual's reputation increases at least into their 40s. There was a sharp decline in the number of subjects addressed by programmers between the ages of 15 and 30, but the range of subjects steadily increased for those in their 30s and into their early 50s. For technologies that have been around less than 10 years, programmers older than 37 had a significant edge in knowledge of iOS and Windows Phone 7, but there was no statistically significant difference for any other technology, from Django to Silverlight.

"We wanted to explore these perceptions of veteran programmers as being out of step with emerging technologies and see if we could determine whether older programmers are actually keeping up with changes in the field," says NCSU professor Emerson Murphy-Hill. "The data doesn't support the bias against older programmers--if anything, just the opposite."

From NCSU News
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