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How many developers are there in the world in 2021?

date: 20 May 2020
reading time: 9 min

Today, software is the driving force of the world – with an estimated 9 trillion devices in use, it is the glue that connects people from all around the globe. Software developers are shaping and building the modern technological world.

The hotspots for the top growth rate in the number of developers are changing as the population of software developers worldwide continues to grow.

As suggested by our 2013 article, there were approximately 18.2 million software developers at that time. We were also aware of the expected growth over the next five to six years. Based on the predictions and growth rates we already know how things look in 2021. The developer population was forecasted to hit approximately 27.7 million in 2023.

How many developers are there in the world in 2021? 

Evans Data Corporation recently announced the results for their Global Developer Population and Demographic Study, which suggests that there are currently 26.9 million developers worldwide. It is also predicted that the global developer population will increase to crushing 45 million by 2030. Hence, we can expect an approximate 75% growth in the number of software developers worldwide in the upcoming decade.

According to the study, the United States currently has the largest population of software developers in the world. This number is estimated to be around 4.3 million. However, it is expected that India will overtake the US as the largest developer population centre by 2024. Europe currently has an estimated 6.1 million professional developers with approximately 300k in Poland. Germany and the United Kingdom have the highest number of developers in Europe.

Since a few years, Europe has been experiencing steady growth in the developer talent pool, while the number of professional developers in the United States seems to shrink constantly. According to the State of European Tech 2019 report, this tendency is caused by the growing popularity of the nearshoring model, which allows companies to find IT partners in both geographical and cultural proximity.

In terms of growth in the number of software developers, the Asia Pacific region shows the strongest development which can be attributed to countries like India and China that have a high rate of students graduating each year. Surprisingly, Latin America has the second strongest growth rate observed in 2019.

According to the report published by the Everest Group, 10% of the global services market is composed of outsourcing companies from this region. According to Frost & Sullivan, the IT industry revenues have grown by 20.3% between 2016 and 2017 in Latin America. This is significant in a context where the Inter-American Development Bank predicts that by 2025, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, San José, Córdoba, and Santiago will be at the heart of the development of software industries.

The demographics of software development 

If one was to guess, approximately 40 million people in the world are involved in writing codes or programs. These include software developers teams, web developers, game developers, full-stack developers, application developers, back-end developers, etc.

According to data compiled by virtual event solutions company, Evia, women make up less than 20 percent of U.S. tech jobs. This is lower than the share women held in the 1980s. India, however, stands out in this area as it has the highest percentage of female developers and software engineers. Experts have found that India’s education and tech industry culture are more conducive to gender equality in computer programming.

Silicon Valley has largely been composed of immigrants. 59% of the workforce in Silicon Valley is born outside of the United States. According to the HackerRank 2019 Developer Skills survey, 4 out of 10 developers were impacted by the immigration policies in 2018. The demand for developers in the United States is expected to grow much faster than average in the coming five years. About 30% of tech recruiters in the U.S. stated that the immigration policies made the recruitment of tech talent difficult in both 2018 and 2019, which leads to a gradual talent shortage in the United States.

Demand and supply for software developers 

While the current population of developers seems to be very high, the demand is not decreasing. With thousands of start-ups coming up in various countries each year, the demand is in fact soaring. Some reasons as to why this trend is observed are:

  1. Most things get built many times – as in any other industry, similar applications are made over and over again. Different regions have different applications for the same concept. Part of the reason is that the software is still local. 
  2. The code has a limited lifetime – it might seem that once an application is built, it’s done. In reality, most code is being constantly changed and most companies are always looking to hire new talent.
  3. Projects are getting more complex – the complexity and scalability of projects are increasing day by day, as the software industry tackles more complex problems – that is why highly skilled, talented developers are in constant demand.
  4. The number of code languages in use is constantly growing, so does the number of software developers.

The influence of the pandemic 

The beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic influenced many industries, creating strong demand for dedicated solutions and customised systems. Almost a third of all companies – including 80% of IT companies worldwide – switched to remote work.

Some early research on this issue by Coderbite, brings attention to the problem of working overtime, as the new solutions are needed right now, no matter how many hours it takes to deliver them.  

Also, leading a team that works remotely for a long time is a challenge. Especially if it is a new situation for some of the team members. Fortunately, there are a lot of online solutions and tools available to help you keep the work efficiency and team spirit on the highest level, no matter if you are working from the office or from home.

We highly recommend you to make yourself familiar with our tips on managing remote teams successfully.  

What does the developer population growth mean for developers in Europe?

Will the large growth of the developer population in Asia and Latin America affect their counterparts in countries like Poland? The answer is most likely ‘no’. Developers in Poland have clients from all over Europe. This relationship is only bound to grow in the future.

As long as developers in countries like Poland continue to put out quality products, organisations will have little to no incentive to outsource projects to Asian countries. Besides, developers from India and China have a huge population to serve, where they will not face potential barriers like miscommunication, time differences, etc. Create a Request for Proposal for your project and compare the results among the European and Asian IT companies.

What’s next? 

Over the last three decades, the computer software industry has been experiencing high growth rates.

Subsequently, this sector has become one of the most internationally dispersed in the world. As a result, the industry is continuously providing unique and unparalleled opportunities for the wider development and growth of developing countries.

With the increasing demand and the increasing number of developers in the world, the software domain is going to continue growing into a dynamic global industry. With this, there is also a hope that we will see an increase in the percentage of women in the developer population.

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