When Do Programmers Retire? Is 35 the End?

Let’s talk about the truth, rumor, and endgame of programmers

Abrar Masum


older man and woman sitting on a couch working on their laptops
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

Why don’t we see a decent number of grey-haired software developers in the industry? Where do all the programmers go when they are older? Do companies cut out older programmers?

If a programmer in their 50s applies for a position with some in their 20s or 30s, how many companies will hire them? There are a lot of myths about this issue, and there are some hard truths too.

It’s certainly shocking to see 40, even 35, considered “old” sometimes. The term old is used here to mean when programmers plan to retire or switch their jobs.

Let’s talk about some statistics.

Statistic: Is 40 the New 60 for Programmers?

I found some conflicting statistics among some surveys. In 2019 Stack Overflow surveyed 66,329 professional developers from all around the world. Here’s the result:

bar chart showing age distribution of programmers in 2019 Stack Overflow survey
Graph by Author

Of the total number of professional developers, 71.7% are under 35 years old and 85% are under 40 years old. This is unusual compared to almost any other profession in the world.

The survey also finds, from 50,705 responses, that the highest average age of developers in Australia and the United States is 32.8. The minimum average age is 25.9 in India.

According to this research paper, the number of software developers aged 55 to 64 years increased from 87,000 (8.3%) in 2011 to 195,000 (10.7%) in 2019 in the USA. So the concentration of older developers is higher in the USA than in most countries.

But day by day, this scenario will be changed.

According to Evans’ data, there are around 24 million developers worldwide and this will increase by 20% to nearly 30 million by 2024. With around 4.4 million software developers, the United States currently has the largest number, but India is expected to overtake it by 2024.

The truth is Asia is generating more software developers, and day by day, the average age of…