Link Between Android Development and Poverty?
Written by Janet Swift   
Friday, 01 September 2017

Stack Overflow has amassed a wealth of data about developers from all over the world. One of the latest insights revealed on its blog is that interest in Android comes predominantly from countries with lower GDP per capita. 



Earlier in the year Stack Overflow launched an interactive tool that allows anyone to explore the fluctuating levels of interest in programming languages and technologies using its data. 

As explained at the time, this data comes directly from the questions asked on Stack Overflow - of which there are around 8,000 on a typical day. Commenting on the validity of using this data to represent developer interest, Stack Overflow Data Scientist David Robinson wrote:

Measuring developer interest based on Stack Overflow questions isn’t perfect: some technologies might inspire more questions among its users than others. But we’ve found it’s a simple measure that gives useful insights into the developer ecosystem. It’s especially useful for measuring changes over time: when we see a rapid growth in the number of questions about a technology, it usually reflects a real change in what developers are using and learning.

The data can also be used to look at geographical differences since Stack Overflow geocodes all of its traffic which means it can plot the percentage of traffic from each country that goes to questions. 

This prompted Jason Punyon, Data Science Engineer at Stack Overflow to ask Where in the World is Mobile Development? 

This map is for the percentage of traffic from each country that goes to questions tagged "Android".




Punyon comments:

Android is decidedly less “hot” in the Americas, Europe, and Russia: it makes up only a small percentage (4-8%) of Stack Overflow question views from those countries. It makes up a much larger share (12-16%) of traffic in Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.

In looking for an explanation for this geographic distribution he combined this traffic data with global data that is on open access for free from the World Bank and found that GDP (Gross Domestic Product, the measure of the value of economic activity within a country) had the strongest relationship:



 (click to enlarge)

The clear trend here is that countries with lower GDP per capita visit substantially more Android tagged questions than countries with high GDP per capita. Punyon notes that there are exceptions in that Japan and South Korea visit more Android than would be expected but says that:

overall the correlation is strong (R2=0.53, p-value < 10-13).

Given such a clear correlation it is tempting to try to explain it. Punyon writes:

There could be many interlocking reasons for this trend. Maybe it’s because Android phones are cheaper, or that there’s substantial Android development outsourced to lower income countries. Our traffic data can’t really answer the why.


Stack Overflow has extended it exploration of correlations of its tags with GDP per capita, removed countries with fewer than 5 million visits in order to reduce the noise. This is the revised analysis for Android: 




A similar negative correlation was revealed between PHP and GDP per capita, contrasting with a positive correlation for Python and for R.

Commenting on these trends David Robinson states:

We’ll emphasize that we’re not suggesting any causality here. We’re certainly not suggesting that programming language choice affects a country’s average income, but we’re also not saying that a country’s wealth directly influences their use of technologies. We suspect that the drivers are likely a mixture of economic and social factors (level of education, age of the software industry, level of outsourcing) that are, in general, correlated with a country’s wealth.

More Information

Where in the World is Mobile Development?

Stack Overflow Developer Survey Results 2017 

Related Articles

Explore Your Favorite Topic With Stack Overflow's Interactive Trend Tool

Developer Pay Satisfaction According To Stack Overflow


Master Large Language Model Ops

New technology brings with it more career opportunities. You may never have imagined becoming an LLMOps consultant,  but there's now a Coursera Specialization which provides preparation for this  [ ... ]

Is PHP in Trouble?

The April 2024 headline for the TIOBE Index, which ranks programming languages in terms of their popularity, reads, "Is PHP losing its mojo" asking this question because this month PHP has dropped out [ ... ]

More News

raspberry pi books



or email your comment to:

Last Updated ( Friday, 01 September 2017 )