Tertiary economic activity

What is the tertiary economic activity? The tertiary economic activity or service sector encompasses the production of services instead of end goods that meet the needs of individuals. The tertiary sector is composed of the "soft" parts of the economy, that is, activities where people offer their knowledge and time to improve the productivity, performance, potential, and sustainability of the economy.

Services are also known as intangible goods and include care, advice, experience, discussion, among others.

The tertiary economic activity involves not only the provision of services to consumers (B2C) but also to other companies (B2B). For example the consulting services from a digital agency to an online store.

tertiary sector


Some economic activities of the tertiary economic activity:
  • Health / Hospitals
  • Waste disposal
  • Education
  • Banking
  • Insurance
  • Financial services
  • Legal services
  • Media
  • Retail Sales
  • Casinos
  • Tourism
  • Security
  • Transport
  • Marketing

Secondary and tertiary economic activities

There are activities that can be considered both as a part of the secondary sector and the tertiary sector. Some activities include both the production of a physical good and the provision of a service. This is the case of public works, which provide a service to society but at the same time involve the construction of infrastructure considered as part of the secondary sector.

Quaternary and tertiary economic activities

The production and exchange of information are considered as part of the tertiary sector of the economy, although for some economists this economic activity constitutes a new sector, the quaternary sector. The quaternary sector can be considered a further delineation of the tertiary sector focused on knowledge-based activities.

Importance of tertiary sector and tertiarization

Countries tend to follow a progression in their economic development, which leads them to have intensive production in primary activities, such as agriculture and mining, to develop the manufacturing industry, such as the production of cars or textiles, to then specialize on a service-based economy. This is called tertiarization of the economy.

The main cause of the tertiarization of the economy is the increase in the income of families that allow them to achieve higher consumption levels of health services, education, insurance, transportation, among others. Families spend more of their income on services while their proportional spending on primary and industrial goods falls. This shift in consumption patterns is reflected in the production of the economy.

Currently, the tertiary economy activities are one of the most competitive sectors worldwide thanks to the dramatic reduction of communication costs, improving speed and reliability in the transport of people and goods, and access to information.

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