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Study: Older Programmers Just as Interested in New Technology as Younger Ones

So, as programmers age, do they get set in their ways? Are they more afraid to learn new things? Are they old dogs that can't learn new tricks?

Nope. In fact, just the opposite, according to some intriguing new research from North Carolina State University. The study examined the profiles of more than 80,000 developers on StackOverflow. Their number-crunching revealed that as coders get older, their interests widen -- in fact, according to the press release, "the researchers found that there is a sharp decline in the number of subjects users weighed in on between the ages of 15 and 30 – but that the range of subjects increased steadily through the programmers' 30s and into their early 50s."

That extends even to the realm of the hottest programming area today -- mobile devices. Again, from the report:

"For two smartphone operating systems, iOS and Windows Phone 7, the veteran programmers had a significant edge in knowledge over their younger counterparts. For every other technology, from Django to Silverlight, there was no statistically significant difference between older and younger programmers."

This is an interesting phenomenon. I'm not sure how much weight I'd give to a one-source (StackOverflow) study, but it might at least help debunk the perception that older programmers are only interested in COBOL and Fortran.

Posted by Keith Ward on 04/30/2013

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