India – Fourth Economic Census 1998

Reliable and timely data base is the basic infrastructure needed for any sound and systematic planning. Efficient sectoral planning depends to a large extent on the availability of detailed information, preferably at micro level. Though a fairly adequate system of agricultural statistics has already been developed in the country, such an information system has not yet been built up for the non-agricultural sector. While statistics in respect of organised segments of the non-agricultural economy are being collected more or less regularly, it is not so in regard to its unorganised segments even though unorganised sector assumes greater importance due to its significant contribution towards gross domestic product as also in generation of employment in developing economy.

Earlier attempts

1.2 attempts were made in the past to bridge these data gaps by both Central agencies and the States. The National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) had conducted some surveys on household nonagricultural enterprises in the past. The first round of NSS (1950-51) covered non-agricultural enterprises as one of its subjects. Such enterprises were covered regularly up to the tenth round (1955-56). Subsequently, selected activities were taken up for survey intermittently in different rounds (14th, 23rd & 29th rounds). Establishment schedules were canvassed in 1971 population census. The census of unorganized industrial units was carried out during 1971-73. Census of the units falling within the purview of Development Commissioner, Small scale industries was carried out during 1973-74 and a survey on distributive trade was conducted by some of the States during the fourth five-year plan period (1969-74). All such efforts made prior to 1976 to collect data on unorganized nonagricultural enterprises have been partial and sporadic.

Economic Census

1.3 The first coordinated approach to fill these vital data gaps was made by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO), Government of India by launching a plan scheme ‘Economic census and Survey’ in 1976. The scheme envisaged organising countrywide census of all economic activities (excluding those engaged in crop production and plantation) followed by detailed sample survey of unorganized segments of different sector on non-agricultural economy in a phased manner during the intervening period of two successive economic censuses. The basic purpose of conducting the economic census was to prepare a frame while follow up surveys collect more detailed sector specific information between two economic censuses. In view of the rapid changes that occur in the unorganised sectors of non-agricultural economy due to high mobility or morbidity of smaller units and also on account of births of new units, the scheme envisaged conducting the economic census periodically in order to update the frame from time to time.

First Economic Census (EC-1977) and Follow up Surveys

1.4 The First Economic Census was conducted through-out the country, except Lakshadweep, during 1977 in collaboration with the Directorate of Economics & Statistics (DES) in the States/Union Territories (UT). The coverage was restricted to only nonagricultural establishments employing at least one hired worker on a fairly regular basis. Data on items such as description of activity, number of persons usually working, type of ownership, etc. were collected.

1.5 Reports based on the data of EC-1977 at State/UT level and at all India level were published. Tables giving the activity group-wise distribution of establishments with selected characteristics and with rural and urban break up were generated. State-wise details for major activities and size-class of employment, inter-alia, were also presented in tables.

1.6 Based on the frame provided by the First Economic Census, detailed sample surveys were carried out during 1978-79 and 1979-80 covering the establishments engaged in manufacturing, trade, hotels & restaurants, transport, storage & warehousing and services. While the smaller establishments (employing less than six workers) and own account establishments were covered by NSSO as part of its 33rd and 34th rounds, the larger establishments were covered through separate surveys. Detailed information on employment, emoluments, capital structure, quantity & value of input, output, etc. were collected and reports giving all important characteristics on each of the concerned subjects were published.

Second Economic Census (EC-1980) and Follow up surveys

1.7 The second economic census was conducted in 1980 along with the house-listing operations of 1981 Population Census. This was done with a view to economizing resources, manpower, time and money. The scope and coverage were enlarged. This time all establishments engaged in economic activities – both agricultural and non-agricultural whether employing any hired worker or not – were covered, except those engaged in crop production and plantation. All States/UTs were covered with the sole exception of Assam, where population census, 1981 was not conducted.

1.8 The information on location of enterprise, description of economic activity carried on, nature of operation, type of ownership, social group of owner, use of power/fuel, total number of workers usually engaged with its hired component and break-up of male and female workers were collected. The items, on which information was collected in second economic census, were more or less the same as hose collected in the First Economic Census. However, based on experience gained in the First Economic Census certain items viz. years of activity, value of annual output/turnover/receipt, mixed activity or not, registered/ licensed/recognized and act or authority, if registered were dropped.

1.9 The field work was done by the field staff consisting of enumerators and supervisors employed in the Directorate of Census Operations of each State/UT. The State Directorates of Economics & Statistics (DES) were also associated in the supervision of fieldwork. Data processing and preparation of State level reports of economic census and their publication were carried out by the DES.

1.10 EC 1980 data were released in two series of tables (‘A’ series and ‘B’ series) with different set of groupings for minor and major activities as also for agricultural and non-agricultural sectors. ‘A’ series give the number of own-account enterprises and establishments with relevant characteristics classified according to nature of economic activity. ‘B’ series gives the principal characteristics of own-account enterprises and establishments classified by size class of total employment for each economic activity. Summary statements, which basically provide the sampling frame and planning material for follow-up enterprise survey, were generate for rural and urban sectors of each State/District separately. The reports were published both at State/UT level as well as All-India level.

1.11 Based on the frame thrown up by EC-1980, three follow-up surveys were carried out, one in 1983-84 on hotels & restaurants, transport, storage & warehousing and services, second in 1984-85 on unorganized manufacturing and third in 1985-86 on wholesale and retail trade.

1.12 The third economic census scheduled for 1986 could not be carried out due to resource constraints. The EC 1980 frame was updated during 1987-88 in 64 cities (12 cities having more than 10 lakh population and 52 class-I cities) which had problems of identification of enumeration blocks and changes due to rapid urbanization. On the basis of the updated frame, four follow-up surveys were conducted during 1988-89, 1989-90, 1990-91 and 1991-92 covering the subjects of hotels & restaurants and transport, unorganized manufacturing, wholesale & retail trade and medical, educational, cultural & other services respectively.

Third Economic Census (EC-1990) and follow up surveys

1.13 The Third Economic Census was synchronized with the house listing operations of the Population Census 1991 on the same pattern of EC 1980. The coverage was similar to that of EC1980. All States/UTs except Jammu & Kashmir, where population census 1991 was not undertaken, were covered.

1.14 The tabulation plan consisted of generation of tables giving the results of EC 1990 under for categories: (a) Agricultural own account enterprises, (b) agricultural establishments, (c) non-agricultural own account enterprises and (d) non-agricultural establishments. For each of these categories, details of number of enterprises, employment with rural – urban break up for each district were presented by size class of employment, major activity, etc. All these tables were grouped broadly in to three categories viz. (i) summary statements (ii) main tables and (iii) derived tables.

1.15 Based on the frame thrown up by EC 1990 four follow up surveys were carried out: (i) Enterprise Survey covering sectors of mining & quarrying, storage & warehousing in 1992-93; (ii) Enterprise Survey covering sectors of hotels & restaurants and transport in 1993-94; (iii) NSS 51st round covering directory, non-directory and own account enterprise in unregistered manufacturing sector in 1994-95 and (iv) Directory Trade Establishments Survey in 1996-97. NSS 53rd round covered the residual part of the unorganized trade sector in 1997.

Fourth Economic Census

1.16 With a view to meeting the demand of various user departments for the data on unorganized sectors of the economy and considering the nature of large number of small units which are subjected to high rates of mobility and mortality, it was felt that the economic census must be brought back to quinquennial nature so that an up-to-date frame can be made available once in five years for conducting the follow up surveys. It was also felt necessary to assess the impact of economic liberalization process on entrepreneurial activities of the country and to monitor the sectoral changes, particularly the emergence of service sector. Keeping these aspects in view, fourth economic census was planned during 1996. But due to severe budgetary the scheme could be launched in only 1998.

1.17 The overall responsibility for organisation and conduct of the economic census rested with the CSO. The DESs of States/UTs were made responsible for conducting the field work and preparing the report.

Scope and coverage

1.18 A Technical Advisory Group (TAG) was constituted by government of India for finalizing the scope, coverage, concepts & definitions and schedules to be canvassed. The TAG considered the data requirements of different Ministries/Departments of the Central and State Governments and recommended the items of information to be collected, formats of the schedules and also the tabulation plan. The TAG inter alia recommended to carry out a Post Enumeration Check (PEC) in selected samples to assess the extent of non-sampling errors in economic census data. Besides, it also recommended to form a Monitoring Committee at national level to oversee the progress of economic census work.

1.19 in the fourth economic census a complete enumeration of all agricultural (except crop production & plantation) and non-agricultural entrepreneurial activities was carried out through out the country.

Schedules Canvassed

1.20 Economic census operations envisaged identification of the enterprises through complete house listing in House List schedule (Annex I) and collecting the particulars about each enterprise identified through the house list schedule, in Enterprise List schedule (Annex II).

Primary Units in rural and urban areas

1.21 Like earlier economic censuses, the basic primary unit for conducting the fourth economic census in rural areas was census villages in all States/UTs except Kerala and Lakshadweep, where panchayat wards were taken as primary units. However, in urban areas there was a departure from the earlier practice. The basic unit in urban areas was the NSSO Urban Frame Survey (UFS) block. This was done mainly because, in earlier economic censuses census enumeration blocks, temporarily carved out at the time of population census, were used which caused problem of identification in conducting subsequent follow up surveys. To facilitate proper identification of the UFS blocks in the field and for confining the census work within the boundary of each block, photocopies of latest maps of UFS blocks for each town/city along with its boundary particulars were supplied to the Directorate of Economic & Statistics of the States/UTs.

Preparation of Rural and Urban Directories

1.22 For identification of the primary units in rural and urban areas, twelve digited location codes were adopted to prepare directories of primary units separately for rural and urban sectors in each State/UT. The list of villages as per 1991 Population Census was used for preparation of the rural directory. Urban directory was based on UFS records obtained from the field Operations Division of NSSO. The basic information thus obtained was updated for newly formed districts/tehsils/blocks etc. taking 15 August 1997 as the cut off date by the DES in each State/UT. Some of the States, however, updated the directories using a subsequent date as cut off point. Preparation of these directories was a pre-requisite for starting the field operations.

Definition of an Enterprise

1.23 For the purpose of fourth economic census, an enterprise was defined as an undertaking engaged in production and/or distribution of goods and/or services not for the sole purpose of own consumption. An agricultural enterprise was defined as one engaged in livestock production and agricultural services including hunting, trapping and game propagation, forestry, logging and fishing (corresponding to Divisions 02, 03, 04, 05 and 06 of Section 1 of National Industrial Classification (NIC)-1987). Enterprises engaged in activities pertaining to agricultural production and plantation (Divisions 00 and 01 of Section 1 of NIC-1987) were not covered under the economic census. Enterprises engaged in economic activities with the assistance of at least one hired worker on a fairly regular basis were defined as Establishments. The enterprises operated with the help of household labour only were termed as Own-Account Enterprises.


1.24 All economic activities were covered except those carried out under the following situations.

(i) Enterprises of shelter-less and nomadic population which keep on moving from place to place and camp either without shelter or with makeshift shelter.

(ii) Enterprises engaged in some activities like smuggling, gambling, beggary, prostitution etc.

(iii) Domestic servants whether they work in one household or in a number of households and drivers etc. who undertake jobs for others on wages.

(iv) All wage- paid employees.

(v) Household members engaged in household chores.

(vi) Persons doing different types of jobs depending on the on the Availability of work e.g. loading, unloading, helping a mason or a carpenter, doing earthwork for a contractor.

(vii) Households working for others and earning some money (insignificant) i.e. purely employee households.

(viii) Households in which none of the members is engaged in any gainful activity i.e. households depending on remittance, rent, interest, pension etc.

(ix) Owners of tube-wells, tractors and bullock carts etc. who utilize their spare capacity to earn extra money if the spare capacity utilization is occasional and not on regular basis.

Items of information collected

1.25 The items of information collected in fourth economic census included premises status, description of activity, nature of operation, ownership type, social group of owner, power/fuel used, years of operation, registration, source of finance, total number of persons usually working and hired persons with break up in male/female and adult/child categories.

Enumerators and Supervisors

1.26 The services of locally drawn personnel such as primary school teachers, patwaris, village level workers. municipal workers were drafted for enumeration work in most of the States/UTs. In urban areas unemployed youths were also appointed as enumerators in some of the States/UTs. The local officials of immediate supervisory level were appointed as supervisors. In all services of around 6.5 lakh enumerators/supervisors were drafted for census work. The enumerators involved in the operation of economic census were given prior training at different levels.

Field Operations

1.27 The fourth Economic Census was conducted independently in all States/UTs. Initially it was proposed to launch the field work of economic census from Feb, 1998 and complete by April, 1998. But in view of General Lok Sabha elections, the date of commencement of field work was postponed. The field work was finally launched from 23 March, 1998.

Post Enumeration Check

1.28 As per the recommendation of Technical Advisory Group, in order to assess the extent of non-sampling errors in economic census data Post Enumeration Check (PEC) was conducted in all States/UTs immediately after completion of the field work of economic census. Two Villages and two urban blocks were selected at random in each district through out the country. The schedules of economic census were canvassed by an independent agency. The field work of PEC was undertaken by the Field Operations Division of National Sample Survey Organisation in all States/UTs except Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura, where PEC was done by the DESs of respective States.

Release of Provisional Results

1.29 In order to meet the immediate need of various users arrangements were made for quick tabulation of economic census data. An `Enterprise List Abstract` (Annex III) was filled by the enumerator for this purpose on completion of the field work in a village/block. Aggregation of data with rural-urban break up at tehsil, district and state level was done by the DESs The provisional results in respect of 30 States/UTs were released by CSO in June 1999.

Tabulation Plan

1.30 The tabulation plan recommended by the Technical Advisory Group was adopted. Two series of tables were generated: (a) main tables and (b) special tables. The main tables were to provide State/UT-wise results in respect of principal characteristics of the enterprises and employment therein classified by major activity groups, type of enterprises, ownership type, social group of owner, size class of employment, power/fuel, used, source of finance, etc., The special tables were to reflect major characteristics of data at al India level. The tabulation format of the main tables is given at Annex IV.

Development of software

1.31 Softwares for data entry, validation, auto-correction as well as for tabulation were developed at the Computer Centre, of the Ministry of Statistics & programme Implementation, Government of India, New Delhi. These softwares were supplied to the DESs in States/UTs. Necessary training for using the softwares was also imparted.

Data Processing

1.32 Processing of fourth economic census data undertaken in a decentralized manner. DESs of each State/UT was made responsible for processing of data through in-house facilities available with them or by engaging outside agencies. The data entry work in respect of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Delhi, Lakshadweep and Pondicherry was undertaken by the respective DESs using in-house facilities available with them. Rest of the States/UTs except Nagaland and Orissa, hired the services of outside agencies. for Nagaland and Orissa data entry as well as well as its processing was done at Computer Centre, New Delhi. All India tables were generated at the Computer Centre, New Delhi.

Classification of Enterprises

1.33 The National Industrial Classification (NIC) 1987 was used for classifying the enterprises. The list of major agricultural and non-agricultural activity groups in which principal characteristics of the enterprises have been classified is given at Annex V.

Concepts and Definitions

1.34 Concepts and definitions of the important terms used in fourth Economic Census are at Annex VI.

Format of the Report ?

1.35 Besides this chapter this report contains four more chapters. The second chapter gives the highlights of the results. The subsequent two chapters describe the characteristics of agricultural and non-agricultural enterprises respectively. The last chapter presents a comparative picture of the results of earlier economic censuses.


Enterprise and employment workers.

Topic Vocabulary URI
Economic Census (EC) is the complete count of all establishments/units located within the geographical boundaries of the country. MoSPI

AF – Adult Female, AM- Adult Male, CCEA – Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs, CF – Child Female, CM – Chaild Male, CSO – Central Statitical Organization, DE – Ditectory Establishment, DES – Diectorate of Economics & Statistics, DWCRA – Development of Women and Children in Rural areas, EC – Economic Census, EST – Establishment, IRDP – Integrated Rural Development Programme, KVIB – Khadi and Village Industries Board, KVIC – Khadi and Village Industries Commission, NDE – Non-directory Establishment, NIC – National Industrial Classification, NPI – Non-profit Institution, NSS – National Sample Survey, NSSO – National Sample Survey Organization, OAE – Own Account Enterprise, OBC – Other Backward Class, PEC – Post Enumeration Check, PVT – Private, SC – Scheduled Caste, ST – Scheduled Tribe, TAG – Technical Advisory Group, TRYSEM – Training of Rural Youth for Self Employment, UFS – Urban Frame Survey, UT – Union Territory


All the States/UTs of the country.


Enterprise and employment workers located within the geographical boundaries of the country. All units engaged in the production or distribution of goods or services other than for the sole purpose of own consumption are counted. While all units engaged in non-agricultural activities are covered, in the agricultural sector units in crop production and plantation activities are excluded.

Producers and Sponsors
Name Affiliation
Central Statistical Organisation(CSO) Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India (GOI)
Name Affiliation Role
Economic Statistics Division Central Statistics Organization
Name Abbreviation Role
Government of India GoI
Metadata Production
Name Abbreviation Affiliation Role
ESD, CSO ESD,CSO,MoSPI Government of India Collection of Socio-Economic Data



Download the questionnaires, technical documents and reports that describe the survey process and the key results for this study.
4th EC enterprises schedule
Fourth EC Report
IHSN_System Document for Fourth EC1998
Technical Documents
Schedule 3 Enterprise List Abstract
Concept and definitions of important terms
Instructions to Enumerators for filling 4thEC
Other Materials
Economic Census Schedule-1 House List
Districts_Code_and_ Name of_Fourth _EC2005
Major Activity Groups of 4th EC 1998
4th EC Layout
4th Economic Census State Code

Data Description

File Description Cases Variables
02 Andhra Pradesh 2902542 40
03 Arunachal Pradesh 20694 40
04 Assam 593169 40
05 Bihar 1043864 40
06 Goa 71658 40
07 Gujarat 1914576 40
08 Haryana 532817 40
09 HP 225478 40
10 J&K 215600 40
11 Karnataka 1911631 40
12 Kerala 1564671 40
13 Madhya Pradesh 1593342 40
14 Maharashtra 3234022 40
15 Manipur 80489 40
16 Meghalaya 56497 40
17 Mizoram 24943 40
18 Nagaland 29534 40
19 Orissa 1449665 40
20 Punjab 717114 40
21 Rajsthan 1530585 40
22 Sikkim 13059 40
23 TamilNadu 2514124 40
24 Tripura 104427 40
25 UP 2827513 40
26 WB 3234396 40
27 AN&Island 13725 40
28 Chandigarh 39836 40
29 Dadar & Nagar Haveli 3977 40
30 Daman & Diu 6233 40
31 Delhi 685852 40
32 Lashadweep 4542 40
33 Pondichery 42807 40
34 Jharkhand 398910 40
35 Chhattisgarh 531098 40
36 Uttaranchal 215498 40