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French Equivalent: Activité

An activity is a process, i.e. the combination of actions that result in a certain set of products.

An activity as defined in ISIC Rev. 3 may consist of one simple process, e.g. weaving, but may also cover a whole range of subprocesses, each of which are mentioned in different categories of the (ISIC) classification. For example, the manufacturing of a car is considered one activity even though its integrated production process includes sub-activities such as casting, forging, welding, assembling, painting, etc (ISIC Rev. 3 para 30).

In ISIC, the expression “activity” is used to identify productive activities. These activities are defined as the use of inputs (e.g., capital, labor, energy and materials) to produce outputs. The outputs that result from undertaking activities can be transferred or sold to other units (in market or non-market transactions), placed in inventory or used by the producing units for own final use. (ISIC Rev. 4)

In practice the majority of units carry on activities of a mixed character. One can distinguish between three types of economic activity:
- Principal activity: The principal activity is identified by the topdown method as the activity which contributes most to the total value added of the entity under consideration. The principal activity so identified does not necessarily account for 50% or more of the entity's total value added.
- Secondary activity: A secondary activity is any other activity of the entity that produces goods or services.
- Ancillary activity: Principal and secondary activities are generally carried out with the support of a number of "ancillary activities", such as accounting, transportation, storage, purchasing, sales promotion, repair and maintenance etc. Thus ancillary activities are those that exist solely to support the main productive activities of an entity by providing non-durable goods or services for the use of that entity.
- (NACE Rev. 1, Statistical Classification of Economic Activities in the European Community, Introduction, Eurostat, May 1996, P. 14-15, Council Regulation (EEC), No. 696/93, Section IV B1 and B4 of 15.03.1993 on the statistical units for the observation and analysis of the production system in the Community and Eurostat.

Source Publication:
Statistical Office of the United Nations, "International Standard Industrial Classification of all Economic Activities, Third Revision", Statistical Papers Series M No. 4, Rev. 3, United Nations, New York, 1990, para. 29

UN Statistics Division, 2008. International Standard Industrial Classification of all Economic Activities. PDF. Available at: see website.

Cross References:
Activity classification
Ancillary activity – Eurostat
Ancillary activity – ISIC Rev. 3
Ancillary activity – SNA
Principal activity – Eurostat
Principal activity – ISIC Rev. 3
Principal activity – SNA
Secondary activity – ISIC Rev. 3
Secondary activity – SNA


Classification Indicator: Classification

Statistical Theme: Classifications

Created on Tuesday, September 25, 2001

Last updated on Thursday, April 25, 2013