Developers are just family guys, study reveals

Evans Data's demographics report also sees programmers over 50 facing employment issues

Software developers, as it turns out, are much more likely to be married with children than unmarried and childless, according to a newly released report. But the report also offers a word of caution for older developers, who might have difficulty finding new employment.

While common stereotypes might figure developers as young, single, and perhaps overly focused on their work, the report on developer demographics by Evans Data says otherwise. "The typical developer is a married, middle-aged male who has two to three children," says the report, entitled "Who Are Software Developers?" and authored by Evans CEO Janel Garvin. Seventy-one percent are married, and only 3 percent are divorced, the report says. "So, all told, developers are not the lonely, antisocial nerds that they were portrayed to be in earlier years, nor are they free-wheeling socialites."

For older developers -- those over age 50 -- the software development landscape is not always kind. The median age of a developer in North America is now 36, and developers have been getting younger. Beginning with the recession in 2008 and 2009 and the resulting downsizing, older developers have gone into retirement voluntarily -- or not, Garvin writes.

"The data does indicate that older developers are leaving the workforce and not returning," Garvin said in an email response to questions about the study. "They may be trying to get work and finding it harder to get hired, or they may have given up." These developers have two factors working against them: They tend to be more expensive as far as salaries and insurance costs, and their skills may no longer match today's technologies, says Garvin. Younger developers bring sought-after skills like mobile, big data, and cloud development capabilities, she notes.

Software development still remains largely a man's world, too. While the number of male developers currently is at a low, males still have accounted for 84 to 94 percent of the workforce since Evans began charting the data in 2001. Just 14 percent are female.

Garvin describes software development as "an art and a science not attainable by just anyone. It takes a special person to write code." Developers are passionate about their craft, a trait rated above any desire for money, says Garvin. Most of the Evans report was based on its own global development survey, conducted online twice a year. Other input was derived from Evans's developer marketing survey taken in February.

Garvin does not see a shortage of developers, at least not now, though a shortage could emerge as demand grows. "The overall growth rate for developers in the U.S. is about 2 percent to 2.5 percent, which echoes the country's economic growth rate but which is far below countries like India, Russia and China, which show double-digit growth rates for software developers entering the field." Young persons, though, are entering the field in the U.S., and that should boost growth in the future, Garvin says.

This story, "Developers are just family guys, study reveals," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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