Which Countries Lead the World in Software Development?

Mar 31, 2017

Software development is a modern industry but it has already become established in almost every country in the world. So how does each country compare?

Developer Numbers

The US currently holds the title for the greatest numbers of software engineers with an estimated four million, out of the global total of 21 million. India is quickly catching up with some forecasts predicting could take the lead with 12 months, while China is in third place with two million developers.

Revenues from IT Products and Services

Ireland leads the pack in terms of revenue from IT-related products and services with an estimated $57.65bn of annual revenue. India, with its growing army of programmers, is in the second place with $55.67bn, while third place is held by the US, which sells IT products and services worth $34.22bn annually. In this list Russia ranked in 15th place, Ukraine in 20th, and Belarus in 25th.

The 2016 A.T. Kearney Global Services Location Index lists India, China, Malaysia, Brazil and Indonesia as the top-five outsourcing providers respectively after measuring 38 different metrics. The report shows Eastern European nations as making some of the most improvements in recent years with their low-cost, highly skilled talent, enlightened management and close proximity to markets in Western Europe. Poland broke into the report’s top ten for the first time and there were also strong show showings from Romania, Bulgaria, Russia, Hungary, Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Belarus.

Best Programmers

To determine the best country for developers around the world, researchers from HackerRank gave them using their platform different programming tasks, and then made a ranking based on results. According to the study, the best coders are in China, while Russia took the second place, and Poland came third. Switzerland and Hungary, round out the top five, with Ukrainian developers coming 11th, and US and Indian software engineers down in 28th and 31st place respectively.

Research & Development as a Proportion of GDP

The share of R&D in GDP structure can be considered an indirect measure of success in the development of associated IT products. South Korea is the leader in this category, where R&D makes up 4.29% of GDP, or more than $63.5bn. In second place is Israel, where the research and development annually takes 4.11% of GDP, or about $12.5bn, and Japan comes in third with 3.58% of GDP ($153.5bn). In absolute terms, the US leads the world with annual research expenditure of about $0.5 trillion.

The Winner?

It is virtually impossible to determine which country is the absolute world leader in software development, but the analysis does allow us to draw certain limited conclusions. The US spends the most on research and development and has the greatest number of developers, but South Korea, Israel, and Japan invest the greatest proportions of their GDP in research and new technologies. Meanwhile, Eastern Europe provides a growing hub for IT services, with Russia and Poland providing some of the best rated developers and the region offering a wealth of high quality and relatively low cost talent to compete with cheaper services in Asia.

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