Economic sector

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Regional differences in the employment structure by economic sector using the example of Germany
Gross domestic product (in billion euros) by economic sector using the example of Austria (1976-2011)
  • Primary sector
  • Secondary sector
  • Tertiary sector
  • Primary production , industry / trade and services are summarized as economic sectors in economics .


    After the three-sector theory of economics , there is in addition to the primary production nor the secondary sector , the intermediate goods of primary production further processed ( industry and manufacturing industry , crafts ) and the tertiary sector , which as a service all services provides that in companies or by the State as well as in other public institutions . Sometimes the division is expanded to include the quaternary sector and quintary sector .

    Primary sector (primary production)

    This sector is also called primary production . Primary production mostly supplies the raw materials for a product. This sector includes e.g. B. the cultivation and harvest of agricultural products, timber harvesting in forestry , fishing , the killing of game during hunting , the slaughter of cattle , the use of water power . The classification of mining in the primary sector is controversial, although this sector also supplies unrefined raw materials. A distinction can be made between a narrower and a broader definition of the primary sector. According to the narrower definition of the economic structure , only agriculture, forestry and fishing would be assigned to the primary sector, according to the broader definition also mining. In most developing countries, the proportion of the population who works in the primary economic sector is much higher than in industrialized nations. There is basically an inverse correlation between the share of employees in the primary sector and the state of development of a state. The primary sector produces the basic or raw materials that the secondary sector processes.

    Secondary Sector (Industrial Sector)

    The secondary sector comprises the manufacturing industry of an economy , i. H. the sector responsible for processing raw materials. These include, for example, manufacturing , industry , handicrafts (manual production), the energy industry , energy and water supply , and mostly also the construction industry . The term industrial sector is used as a synonym . The mining is also assigned in part to the secondary sector.

    The processing of goods from the primary sector is characteristic of the sector , which makes it material-intensive. Because of the production process using capital goods , it is capital-intensive.

    Tertiary sector (service sector)

    The tertiary or service sector includes all services that are provided in independent companies or by the state and other public institutions.

    Due to their economically important activity, certain branches of the tertiary sector are often listed separately. This usually affects the areas of trade, transport and public budgets. This breakdown is particularly useful for service-intensive locations : Cities such as Frankfurt am Main , London or Paris generate around 90% of their gross value added in the service sector.

    Quaternary sector (information sector)

    There are different definitions for the Quaternary sector (also Quaternary sector or information sector ), but mostly the economy is only divided into three sectors. In 1961, Jean Gottmann defined the activities falling into this sector as activities from the area of ​​the tertiary sector that have particularly high intellectual demands and require a pronounced willingness to take responsibility.

    This includes in particular:

    Sometimes the term Quaternary Sector subsumes the currently rapidly expanding information services, i.e. all sectors that deal with the creation, processing and sale of information (data and knowledge). Some economic researchers also assume that Western service societies will develop into information societies ( knowledge society ).

    A further definition for the Quaternary sector is services that are provided in the area of leisure and entertainment and thus it takes the rapidly growing economic sector into account.

    Hans Linde understood the Quaternary Sector 1977 to mean services that are not guided by market economy principles, but rather politically regulated ( state services ).

    Quintary sector

    In rare cases, the specialist literature also mentions the quintary sector , which includes the areas of waste management , tourism , leisure activities , wellness and health care . It is a large sector, because the waste management industry already consists of garbage collection, scrap yards, sewage treatment plants and recycling plants, which according to NACE are otherwise assigned to the secondary sector. Tourism, recreational activities, wellness and health care are sometimes also listed as a quintary sector. This group is otherwise assigned to the service sector (tertiary sector).


    Selected figures from the Fischer World Almanacs 2008 and 2012.

    Proportion of employed persons in the sectors
    country Primary sector Secondary sector Tertiary sector
    Germany (2010) 000000000000002.10000000002.1% 24.4% 73.5%
    Austria (2010) 000000000000004.30000000004.3% 26.9% 68.8%
    Switzerland (2010) 000000000000003.40000000003.4% 22.8% 73.8%
    USA (2007) 000000000000001.40000000001.4% 21.0% 78.0%
    Great Britain and Northern Ireland (2010) 000000000000001.90000000001.9% 18.7% 79.4%
    Japan (2007) 000000000000004.00000000004.0% 28.0% 67.0%
    Guatemala (2002) 000000000000039.000000000039.0% 20.0% 38.0%
    Botswana (2005) 000000000000002.00000000002.0% 53.0% 45.0%

    See also


    • Giovanni Danielli / Norman Backhaus / Patrick Laube, Economic Geography and Globalized Living Space , Zurich 2002.

    Web links

    Wiktionary: Business sector  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

    Individual evidence

    1. ^ Giovanni Danielli / Norman Backhaus / Patrick Laube, Economic Geography and Globalized Living Space , 2002, p. 294
    2. ^ Giovanni Danielli / Norman Backhaus / Patrick Laube, Economic Geography and Globalized Living Space , 2002, p. 294
    3. a b Heinritz Emde: The tertiary sector as a research area of ​​geography. In: Praxis Geographie H. 1, 1990, pp. 6-12
    4. ^ Jean Gottmann: Megalopolis or the Urbanization of the Northeastern Seaboard. 1961
    5. ^ Jan Marco Leimeister, Service Engineering and Management , 2012, p. 8
    6. Economic sectors, primary, secondary, tertiary, quaternary sector - In: Michael Büchler, accessed on May 19, 2019 .
    7. • Financial terms and definitions. Entry "Business Sector". Mediabistro GmbH, accessed on May 19, 2019 .
    8. The Fischer World Almanac 2008. Frankfurt a. M. 2007
    9. The Fischer World Almanac 2012. Frankfurt a. M. 2011