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Jeff and Joel made reference to the number of programmers in the world on one of the stackoverflow podcasts (around #37 - I'm a bit behind).

Joel indicated that he had heard that there were about 4 million programmers in the world, 2 million of whom work in the States.

I was curious as to the actual numbers, but couldn't (admittedly very quickly) find definitive results. I'm interested in the "regular" programmers - not those that can program, but those that do. I would consider working as a developer or being a major contributor to an open source project as qualifying as "do".

Has anybody seen any results of more than dubious quality? Thanks in advance...

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migrated from Jul 22 '09 at 0:37

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

50% in the U.S.? That's pretty crazy.. I guess joel is one of those people that thinks the U.S. is the biggest country in the world? Silly joel – Evert Jun 26 '09 at 3:39
Was going to suggest that you make this a community wiki as its not technically speaking programming related, however the community has spoken. I would feel it is programming related as not all Q's have to be technical but there you have it. Interestingly in the show notes for podcast #37 Jeff has asked this very question linking to Google Answers and has no answer yet. – MadMurf Jun 26 '09 at 4:33
@MadMurf: Thanks for the suggestion anyway. I really, really want to say something now. Unfortunately all my comments are of the "put it in a locked drawer for two days" kind... ;). – kwutchak Jun 26 '09 at 6:17
Not sure why this was migrated, nothing to do with SO specifically... – Kyle Cronin Jul 22 '09 at 1:25
@Kyle, it was migrated because it was closed as not programming related, which is debateable. Its programming related but no technical and there's certainly enough of those questions still open on SO. The number of prgrammers is something that has been discussed on SO and for want of a better home for this its been migrated to Meta – MadMurf Jul 22 '09 at 1:31
@MadMurf: Thanks for migrating this... – kwutchak Jul 22 '09 at 7:51

EDIT: Just found a reference article from the SDTimes which referenced some of Evans Data 2009 report. The full 63 page report can be purchased from Evans Data and to clarify I have no link to them.

For 2009, Evans Data originally estimated that there would be approximately 15.2 million developers worldwide. However, it has reduced that estimated by about 600,000 in the current report. In North America, Evans Data projected in a previous report that the developer population would grow to 3.85 million in North America during 2009. In the current report, it changed that figure to 3.72 million based on current economic conditions. Evans did not disclose data on other regions.

This is the previous article I found with a referenced number of 14.5 million in 2007. Reference & Evans Data.

New research shows that more software developer jobs will be created in Asia than in North America by 2010.

The worldwide software developer population is expected to grow to 19.5 million by 2010 from 14.5 million in 2007, but North America will account for only 18 percent of those jobs in 2010, down from 23 percent today, according to statistics from Evans Data presented at a conference the research firm is hosting Tuesday in Redwood City, Calif.

While the North American share of the developer work force will shrink, the APAC (Asia-Pacific) share will grow to close to 45 percent from 37 percent today. The share of developers from EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) will slip to 30 percent from 35 percent, and the share from Latin America will remain flat at 6 percent.

It doesn't come near to Joel's numbers so he must have been referencing some other source. This second earlier article does provide detail to answer your question on distribution though.

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SDTimes link seems to have moved: – Adrian Mouat Jan 17 '11 at 11:27

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