Silicon Valley has a reputation for favouring younger engineers, developers, and programmers.
While that may not be necessarily new or entirely true, new data provides some insight into the average age of developers around the world — and, unsurprisingly, it looks like most of them are in their 20s.
Stack Overflow, the popular question-and-answer site for developers and programmers, recently published its annual Developer Survey. The company says this year’s survey is its largest to date, with 26,068 people from 157 countries participating.
The survey breaks out a ton of details about the developer population, including the average age of a developer, level of experience, gender, and more.
According to the data, the average developer is 28 years old, as the chart from Stack Overflow shows:
Only 4.6% of all developers who participated are between the ages of 40 and 50, and only 9.1% are between 35 and 39 years old.
Another interesting tidbit — the United States has the highest average age for developers — at 31.
Of course, the data isn’t an absolute indication of the tech workforce in Silicon Valley or any other area of the world — it just provides a bit more evidence to the argument that younger developers are in higher demand.
Prominent figures in tech have reiterated this point in the past.
Entrepreneur Jeff Pulver, best known for his role in Vonage, said the following at the American Enterprise Institute in October, according to The Washington Post:
I personally with my current start-up, I was in Silicon Valley two years ago meeting a partner of one of the most famous VCs in the world and when he told me to my face, told me “Jeff, look, you’re not 25 years old having just left Facebook as a product manager, because if you were I have $US5 million for you.” He looked at me and said I was worthless.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg famously said back in 2007 at Stanford: “Young people are just smarter.”
There’s been an ongoing conversation about Silicon Valley’s so-called obsession with youth. The New Republic reported last March that some workers in the tech industry in their 20s were approaching Dr. Seth Matarasso for plastic surgery in order to look younger.
It’s unclear exactly why this perception may exist in Silicon Valley, but there are a few theories: Some may feel “older” employees won’t fit in with the startup-like culture at some tech companies — older employees may have children they’d like to spend more time with, for instance. Employers may be able to hire young, talented engineers for much cheaper than they would a more experienced programmer. And, some veterans simply move to management positions after they have gained enough expertise, which means they aren’t really developing or programming anymore.