How Programming Languages Differ Between Wealthy and Developing Countries

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stackoverflow has some interesting findings in the usage of programming languages in developed countries and developing countries.

Technologies correlated with GDP per capita

How can we segment the software development industry in two?


  • Difference in data science technologies: As we saw earlier, Python and R are associated with a country’s income. Python is visited about twice as often in high-income countries as in the rest of the world, and R about three times as much. We might also notice that among the smaller tags, many of the greatest shifts are in scientific Python and R packages such as pandas, numpy, matplotlib and ggplot2. This suggests that part of the income gap in these two languages may be due to their role in science and academic research. It makes sense these would be more common in wealthier industrialized nations, where scientific research makes up a larger portion of the economy and programmers are more likely to have advanced degrees.
  • C/C++: C/C++ are two other notable languages that tend to be visited from high-income countries. One hypothesis is that this may have to do with education: as we saw in a previous post, C and C++ are among the languages more disproportionately visited from American universities. It could also be related to the geographic distribution of the electronics and manufacturing industries.
  • PHP and Android: We explored Android development around the world in a previous post, but PHP is another technology that’s notably associated with lower-income countries. It’s interesting to see that CodeIgniter, a PHP open source framework, is the tag that’s singularly most disproportionately visited from lower-income countries, by a large margin. Further examination shows it is especially heavily visited in South/Southeast Asia (particularly India, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines) while it has very little traffic from the US and Europe. It’s possible that CodeIgniter is a common choice for outsourcing firms building websites.

Conclusion: why does this matter?

For instance, in 2017 so far, Python is the second most visited tag among high-income countries, while it’s only the 8th most visited in the rest of the world. My language of choice, R, is the 15th most visited tag in high-income countries, but it doesn’t even make the top 50 most visited tags elsewhere.

Written on August 27, 2017