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Study says older workers = fewer entrepreneurs

Major innovations from the telephone, light bulb and automobile to Apple, Microsoft and Facebook have something in common. Their creators were young.

A new study that's likely to draw the ire of some takes things a step further. A multi-university organization, the National Bureau of Economic Research, reported that having too many older workers in a society slows its rate of entrepreneurship. In addition to finding that older workers, on average, tend to be less innovative, the study also reported that they block younger workers from acquiring new skills and opportunities.

Senior woman worker
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Author Michael Parrish Dudell, who wrote entrepreneurship book "Shark Tank Jump Start Your Business," said he believes that millennials make better founders of companies, pointing to studies that find that creativity peaks in young adulthood. One study from the University of California, Davis, indicated that young people have a greater willingness to embrace things that are new.

"Millennials, specifically, are comfortable moving at a speed that no other generation moves at because they haven't had to," Dudell told CNBC.

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However, a career coach who has worked with thousands of midlife professionals said she disputes Dudell. "They (millennials) may be more bold in their belief and trust in the viability of their ideas, but not more creative," Kathy Caprino told CNBC. "Older workers have critical skill sets, knowledge bases, experience and networks that set them up for more success in entrepreneurship."

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Caprino said that ultimately, diversity yields better businesses. She said younger generations tend to discount the magnitude of skills they can learn from older ones.

"Younger people sometimes have amazing ideas and believe in themselves, but when it comes to executing and going through the very tough times, I think older people have the experience and have learned from the mistakes that have crushed them in the past," she said.

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There's little doubt that an entrepreneurial spirit has infected a portion of the U.S. workforce, regardless of their age. By the end of the decade, 50 percent of workers in the private sector will be independent, according to business services firm MBO Partners.

It's a trend that comes partially as a result of age bias in recent years throughout corporate America, Caprino said. It's that very bias that's pushing older workers to become independent. "They are highly motivated to make it work. It's a necessity—not a lark, hobby or a wish," she said.

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Caprino's advice to millennials is to slow down a bit.

"Millennials have so much excitement and come out of the gate running, but they don't have temperance," she said. "Some of us older folks are looking for a little bit of respect, a little bit of appreciation and an understanding of what you don't know."