How happy are developers about their jobs and where do they live?

According to Stack Overflow’s developer survey data from 2016–2020


When it comes to software development, there are lots of reasons for you to choose from if you want to become one. From learning new things every day, to being in high demand, being able to work remotely, good pay and economic benefits.

Also, it is a highly creative profession and never gets boring. Coding is social. It stands on large open source communities with people on forums to discuss more about programming. Therefore, if you have the skills, it is highly appealing to choose software development as a profession.

So, you worked really hard and now you are a software developer. How happy are you about your job? And, where do most software developers work? Do they differ from the vast majority? Having such a great job, It begs the question to find out how fulfilling it is.

To answer these questions I took a look at the Stack Overflow Annual Developer Survey, the world’s largest and most trusted community of professional software developers out there. I downloaded five years of data, from 2016 to 2020, assessed it, cleaned it, explored it and answered my questions in a very data scientific approach.

The five years of data had 359.062 reviews from 265 different countries. According to Stack Overflow, the responses are qualified for analytical purposes based on time spent on the full, completed survey. Respondents were recruited primarily through channels owned by Stack Overflow.

How happy are developers about their jobs?

After cleaning the data set and unified the headers, I was able to concatenate all the data and answer my questions.

From the above bar chart, we can see that from 2016–2020, about 77% of the respondents are pretty happy about their jobs. Only about 15% are dissatisfied and about 8 percent are neutral. Well, we can say that the vast majority of the software developers are satisfied with their jobs.

But, let’s see the mean job satisfaction over the years:

This line plot reiterates our findings and tells us that overall job satisfaction is in the slightly high level of happiness. Although we can see from 2018 a decrease in job satisfaction, it is still above a mean 3.7, closer to being slightly satisfied. But, this can also mean that a further decrease in satisfaction could go on in the neutral area of job happiness.

Let’s find out more.

Where do most developers live?

For this question, I had to find the top three countries the respondents live in.

We can see that from 2016 to 2020, the United States, United Kingdom, India and Germany are the top three countries where most software developers live. Clearly, the United States has most of the software developers. India is in the second position for 2016–2020. The United Kingdom is the third country with most developers in 2016, 2017 and 2020. Meanwhile, in 2018 and 2019 we have Germany in third place.

Now, we can answer the question of how happy they are about their job and see if we can find some patterns or trends between groups.

How happy are software developers from the top three countries?

From the above line plot, we can identify two different groups related to job satisfaction:

  1. Software developers in the United States, United Kingdom and India look very similar according to their job satisfaction. We can see that they have an overall higher satisfaction than software developers from India. They are slightly satisfied towards moderately satisfied, with a mean job satisfaction between 3.7 and almost 4.2. Also, we can see a little decrease in satisfaction from 2017 but it is still in the upper side overall satisfaction.
  2. Meanwhile, for software developers from India, we can point a downwards trend of job satisfaction from 2016 to 2019. Also, let’s note that mean satisfaction for India is above 3.5 and we can see in 2020 a slightly increase in job satisfaction.


  1. The US, India, UK and Germany are the top three countries software developers live in 2016 to 2020, according to Stack Overflow Annual Developer Survey, the largest survey of people who code around the world.
  2. Related to how happy they are as software developers, we found two groups. One from the US, UK and Germany, very similar, they are slightly happy about their jobs. The second group, from India, we identified a slightly downwards trend of job satisfaction from 2016 to 2019, with an increase in 2020. But, they are still above 3.5 job satisfaction, meaning a slightly satisfied view about their job.

Next steps

Now that we have a clear view of job satisfaction for software developers from 2016–2020, we can move forward and analyze how these differences relate to salary. Maybe there are also some salary patterns that can explain why software developers from India are a little less satisfied than those from the US, UK and Germany.

To see more about this analysis, see the link to my Github available here.

Data Scientist

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