The quaternary sector

The advanced tertiary, or quaternary, sector is the fourth productive sector of the economy.

The term was recently coined to distinguish between economic activities previously included in the tertiary sector.

But exactly what is it? And why must it be distinguished from the tertiary sector?

The tertiary sector is often defined as the sector of services offered to people and businesses. It includes areas such as trade, transport, healthcare, education, tourism, catering, entertainment and many others.

Most of these services are intangible, they are not physical but they represent experiences or information and the related activities often involve direct interactions between people (for example healthcare, teaching or advisory firms).

The quaternary sector, instead, goes beyond traditional services and it is characterized by knowledge management and innovation. It includes activities such as research and development, management consulting, advanced computing and information industries.

They are all activities that involve creation, analysis and application of specialized knowledge.

Furthermore, the quaternary sector is often associated with innovation and the creation of new ideas, technologies and approaches.

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In summary, while the tertiary sector focuses on services in general, the quaternary sector goes further, focusing on knowledge-based services such as consultancy, training, financial planning, blogging and design through the application of advanced and specific skills. Both are crucial in the modern economy, but the quaternary sector reflects a higher level of specialization and complexity in economic activities as it includes new areas such as: information technology; communication and marketing; integrated services for properties and infrastructures; engineering, territory and environment; advice; Advanced Search. This is enough to justify a separate sector, rather than considering it a sub-category of the tertiary sector.

Margherita Merli, 3G

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