Quaternary Sector

We explain what the quaternary sector is, its characteristics, importance and examples. Also, what are the other economic sectors.

quaternary sector
The quaternary sector has a direct impact on the development of new technologies.

What is the quaternary sector?

The quaternary sector of the economy is the fourth of the traditional divisions of the productive circuit (that is, of economic activity), and in it are found activities and services based on the accumulation of knowledge and therefore impossible to machine. In general terms, it is called the “research sector”.

the quaternary sector It is one of the key sectors in technological and industrial innovationThis is because the application of science and technology to the business world has allowed the creation of an infinity of new marketable goods and services, as well as the improvement of existing ones. Therefore, this sector is home to hyper-specialized professional workers and often requires large budgetary investments.

For these reasons, the quaternary sector is probably the one that has grown the most in the last century of human history, although it continues to be the majority and predominant in the nations of the so-called “first world”, in which the level of industrial and technological development is high. , and in which there is the high income that this type of investment requires.

It can serve you: Economic sectors

Characteristics of the quaternary sector

The quaternary sector of the economy is characterized by the following:

  • Dedicated to innovation and accumulation of knowledgewhich has a direct impact on the development of new technologies and new possibilities of transforming matter to satisfy human needs (that is, new types of goods and services).
  • Requires hyper-skilled workers and with a high level of professionalization (postgraduate degrees and work experience), which means that wages are usually higher than average.
  • It is a sector that is cross-linked with the rest of the economic circuitthat is, it intervenes in the operation of the other sectors to provide technological capital that improves the production of each one, and in turn requires inputs from them to feed research.
  • Their tasks are of an intellectual type, they cannot be mechanized or automated, although they do feed back with the technology that it invents to promote research. For example, if a new type of microscope is invented, this tool will serve to better study certain types of bacteria used in food fermentation.
  • It tends to predominate in countries with a high level of industrialization and technological development.
You may be interested:  Private Sector

Importance of the quaternary sector

The importance of the quaternary sector is increasing in a world dominated by technological progress. Innovation in terms of medical, biological or industrial applications not only It has a noticeable impact on people’s quality of life.but also allows the creation or strengthening of market niches.

As an example, just look at what happened in the late 1990s with the advent of cell phones (despite the fact that at that time they were much more primitive than contemporary ones). The innovation allowed the improvement and lowering of the costs of this technology, which was made available to the entire world. If this had not happened, today we would not have the immensity of applications and platforms for remote consumption that characterize the second decade of the 21st century.

Examples from the Quaternary sector

quaternary sector biotechnology examples
Various forms of biotechnology are included within the quaternary sector.

Some examples of economic activities in the quaternary sector are:

  • The computer industry and ICT (information technology and telecommunications).
  • The biomedical industry and gene editing for medicinal purposes.
  • Research in robotics and artificial intelligence.
  • The aerospace industry and tourist trips to space.
  • Pharmaceutical and biochemical research.

Other economic sectors

In addition to the quaternary sector, the economy comprises the following sectors:

  • Primary sector. Also called the first sector or productive sector, it is in charge of extracting and processing the raw material of nature so that it can feed the secondary sector, that is, so that it can be transformed into consumer goods. For example: A mining company.
  • Secondary sector. Also called the second sector or manufacturing sector, it is responsible for transforming the raw material received from the primary sector into manufactured or consumer goods, that is, into products ready for the consumer to obtain and use, or into intermediate goods that feed other manufacturing industries. For example: A company that manufactures nails from iron sheets.
  • Third sector. Also called the third sector or service sector, it is responsible for providing other sectors and consumers with some type of profitable service of defined duration, be it maintenance, information, customer service, among others. For example: Transport companies or internet providers.
  • quinary sector. Also called the fifth sector or non-profit sector, it is in charge of providing society with unprofitable or non-capitalization services that are required to solve the basic problems of society, such as the police, public institutions, firefighters. , among others.
You may be interested:  Developing Countries

Continue with: Investment project


  • “Quaternary sector” on Wikipedia.
  • “The quaternary sector of the economy” (video) in Educatina.
  • “What are the economic sectors into which the activity is divided?” in Creditea.
  • “Characteristics of Industry” on BBC Bitesize.