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Computer Programmers Get Better With Age, Study Says

An inconvenient finding for a youth-obsessed industry.

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When it comes to hiring programmers, many tech companies, particularly startups, favor the young. Older people just don't get tech, the thinking goes. But according to new research, that might be totally wrong.

A new study from North Carolina State University shows that programmers actually improve with age.

"The older developers seemed to know more than the younger developers did," says Emerson Murphy-Hill, co-author of the study. "That runs contrary to what the popular expectation is."

Particularly traits like vocabulary, knowledge of history and life experience — skills key to programming — improve with time. But programming knowledge, too, can be maintained at a high level into a person's 50s and 60s.

Of course, age discrimination in tech hiring is about more than skill: startups don't just want savvy employees, but might prefer employees without families, outside responsibility, and high salary expectations.

In any case, people hiring in IT might want to rethink their approach.

Contact Justine Sharrock at

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