India – Third Economic Census 1990

One of the main task of the statistical system of a country is to provide the planners and policy makers with information on various aspects of economic’ social and related activities in terms of its contribution to national economy and life, are available on a time series basis. Information on some other activities, though small in terms of its economic contribution but huge in terms of participating employment, was sparsely available through type studies and pilot surveys. In order to bridge the data gaps in these unrecorded but visible economic activities, the Central Statistical Organization (CSO) had embarked upon a programe of bationwide census of all economic activities, called the Economic Census (EC) which was followed by periodic detailed enquiries on a sample basis.



1.2 The first Economic Census to collect information in the non-agricultural economy was conducted in 1977, wherein the coverage was restricted only to non-agricultural enterprises employing at least one hired worker on a fairly regular basis. The census was undertaken with the participation of the Directorate of Economics & Statistics in various States/UTS by utilizing the services of persons appointed on a temporary/part-time basis. All the States/UTS of India, except the Union Territory of Lakshadweep were covered in the census. The EC 1977 adopted a dual approach; viz. (i) house listing approach for the urban areas and also for villages with a population of more than 5,000 as per 1971 population census in rural areas and (ii) village level enquiry for the remaining villages in the rural areas.

1.3 An establishment slip for recording the activity carried on, number of persons usually working with hired components, location and other basic characteristics including value of output/turnover was canvassed. However, in case of manufacturing activity details about the output were also collected for important items. A schedule giving village amenities was also canvassed with details of various services available and the distance from the village to avail such facilities.

1.4 Reports based on the data of EC 1977 at State/UT and all-India levels were prepared and 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.

1.5 The census was followed by detailed sample surveys during 1978-79 and 1979-80 covering the enterprises engaged in Manufacturing, Trade, Hotels & Restaurants, Transport, Storage & Warehousing and services. Detailed information on employment, emoluments, capital structure, input, etc. was collected. The data were disseminated in the form of reports giving all important characteristics on each of the concerned subject.

ECONOMIC CENSUS – 1980 (EC 1980)

1.6 As the Economic Census covers a large number of small units which are subjected to high rate of mobility and mortality, the census is required to be conducted at frequent intervals, generally not exceeding 5 years, to understand the structural changes and the status of entrepreneurial activities. Economic census being an independent one exclusively conducted for the purpose, large administrative and field machinery was required for its operation. The operations of the Census involve listing of addresses of enterprises through household approach and therefore, it was considered economical and expedient to organize the second Economic Census along with the houselisting operations of population census. The second Economic Census was thus conducted in 1980, alongwith the house listing operations of the population Census, 1981. All enterprises, 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. Thus as against only non-agricultural establishments covered in the first Economic Census the second Economic Census covered all enterprises. All States/UTs were covered, except Assam, where the population Census, 1981 was not conducted.

1 .7 The information on location of enterprises, description of economic activity carried on, nature of operation, type of ownership, social group of owner, use of power, total number of workers usually engaged with its hired component and break-up of male and female workers was collected. The entire 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 were also associated in the supervision of field work, data processing and preparation of State reports of Economic Census and their publication.

1.8 The tabulation for Economic Census 1980 consisted of generation of two series of tables (`A’ series and ‘B’ series) with different sets of groupings for minor and major activities as also for agricultural and non-agricultural sectors. Summary statements which basically provide the sampling frame and planning material for enterprise surveys to be followed up were generated for each State/District separately for rural and urban areas. Series `A’ gives the number of own- account enterprises and establishments with relevant characteristics Classified according to nature for economic activity. Series ‘B’ gives the principal characteristics of own-account enterprises and establishments classified by size class of total employment for each economic activity. The results have been published at State/All-India level.

1. 9 The results of the Economic Census, 1980 were extensively used in planning the follow-up surveys of 2nd and 3rd series. In the 2nd series, surveys were conducted to collect details of the enterprises in (a) Transport, Hotels & Restaurants, Services and storage & warehousing (1983-84), (b) Unorganized Manufacturing (1984-85) and (c) Trade (1985-86). The 3rd series of follow-up surveys commencing from 1988-89 covered the following subjects:

1988-89 – Transport and Hotels & Restaurants,

1989-90 – Unorganized Manufacturing Establishments,

1990-91 – Trade Sector,

1991-92 – Medical, Educational, Cultural & other services.

1.10 In 1987-88, an updation of the sampling frame was done for 64 Class I cities/towns where identification of first stage units posed problems due to changes in urban structure. This information was used to conduct sample surveys after 1987-88.


1.11 The need for conducting regular economic census giving the details of entrepreneurial activities in agricultural and non-agricultural sectors was felt by various statistical for a academic and research institutions. Accordingly a Central Plan Scheme was prepared which was approved with a budget allocation of Rs.15.47 crores. The scheme was given to the Department of Statistics for implementation.

1.12 A unit headed by a Joint Director was formed in the Economic Census and Surveys Division of the Central Statistical Organization with the responsibility of overseeing the field work and its completion, data processing and publication of results. The unit functioned under the guidance of the Director of Economic Census and Surveys Division.

1.13 The scope and coverage of the Economic Census was finalized by a Technical Advisory Group ( TAG) represented by the Planning Commission, Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Labour, National Sample Survey Organization, Computer Centre of the Department of Statistics, Reserve Bank of India, State Directorates of Economics & Statistics, some of the Universities and Institutions. The main task of the TAG was to outline the details of the conduct of third Economic Census and synchronizing that with the house listing operations of the Population Census 1991. The terms of reference of the TAG were as follows:

a) To advise on the scope, coverage and concepts of the third Economic Census;

b) To lay down procedures for ensuring that the open air enterprises like mines, quarries, brick kilns are covered in third Economic Census;

c) To examine the feasibility of adopting urban frame survey blocks as units of enumeration in urban areas;

d) To finalize the tabulation programme and advise on the decentralization of tabulation work.

The TAG was assisted by three Sub- Groups. Viz. (i) sub-Group I to deal with the concepts, definitions and items coverage etc., Sub-Group II to examine the feasibility of adopting urban frame survey blocks and of conducting post enumeration checks and Sub-Group III to deal with the tabulation programmes and data processing.


1.14 The third Economic census was conducted along with the house listing operations of the population census, 1991 on the same pattern of Economic Census, 1980 which was taken up in all the states/UTS except Jammu & Kashmir where the population census, 1991 was not undertaken. The Registrar General and census commissioner of India and the Directors of census operations of states/UTS were given the job of organization and coordination of field work. The enumerators and supervisors involved in the operations of Economic census were given prior training at different levels. The Directorates of Economics & statistics in states/UTS were associated in the entire programme.


1.15 In most of the States, the enumeration work was completed between April – 1990. All particulars relating to an enterprise were collected in a form called `Enterprise List’ (Annexure I). The items of information collected in the third Economic Census included (i) location of enterprise; (ii) nature of operation; (iii) type of ownership; (iv) social group of owner; (v) power/ fuel used for the activity; (vi) total number of persons usually working in the enterprises; and (vii) hired persons (with the break -up of male/female categories).


1.16 Arrangements were made for quick tabulation of important items in the Enterprise List by the enumerators themselves as a part of the Economic Census operations. An `Enterprise List Abstract’ (Annexure ii) was filled by the enumerator after the field work in the block was completed. Further aggregations at tehsil/district level and upwards with rural-urban break-up were done by the staff of Directorates of Economics & Statistics to provide provisional results on items such as the total number of agricultural and non-agricultural enterprises, the total and hired employment in these enterprises together with certain selected characteristics of the enterprises. The provisional results were released by CSO within a few weeks of the completion of field work of the Economic Census.


1.17 The tabulation plan involved generation of tables giving the results of Economic Census under four broad categories (a) Agricultural own – account enterprise; (b) Agricultural establishments; (c) Non-agricultural own-account enterprises; and (d) Non-agricultural establishments. For each of these categories, details on number of enterprises, employment with rural-urban break up for each district were planned to be presented by size class of employment, major activity wise etc. All these tables are grouped broadly into three categories viz. (i) Summary Statements; (ii) Main Tables and (iii) Derived Tables. List of activities for which principal characteristics of agricultural enterprises are classified, is given at Annexure III. List of activities for which principal characteristics of non-agricultural enterprises are classified, is given at Annexure IV.


1.18 Summary Statements were prepared giving the distribution of all non- agricultural enterprises by type (own- account enterprises, non-directory and establishments ) for each of the 13 major activity groups in that sector, for each enumeration block within each village in the rural areas and ward/town or city in the urban areas. These statements were prepared separately for (i) Private & Cooperative Enterprises and (ii) Public enterprises, by major activity and with rural-urban break-up. List of statements generated is given at Annexure V. The non-agricultural activities, which are described in Annexure VI are categorized under 13 major activity groups viz. (a) Mining & quarrying; (b) Manufacturing; (c) Electricity, Gas & Water; (d) Construction; (e) Wholesale Trade; (f) Retail Trade; (g) Hotels & Restaurants; (h) Transport; (i) storage & Warehousing; (j) Communication; (k) Financial, Insurance, Real Estate & Business Services; (l) Community, Social & Personal Services; and (m) Other unspecified activities. The information detailed in the summary statements are utilized in planning future follow-up surveys and selection of first stage units.


1.19 Principal characteristics of (a) own-account enterprises (b) private establishments (c) cooperative establishments and (d) all establishments classified by 131 economic activity groups for each district/state, separately for rural/urban are presented in the form of main tables. The list of 131 economic activity groups for which the principal characteristics of enterprises are classified is given at Annexure VII. The principal characteristics include enterprises (i) without premises (ii) owned by scheduled castes/scheduled tribes (iii) operating seasonally (iv) type of power used etc. Along with these principal characteristics, information on persons usually working with break-up of male and female is also presented. For establishments, hired employment with male and female components for each size class employment is tabulated.

1.20 A separate table giving district-wise number of enterprises and its employment, for each at 4-digit level of National Industrial Classification (NIC), 1987 which accounts for a minimum of 100 enterprises at district level was also generated for each State. A separate table giving number of enterprises and its employment by type, with principal characteristics for each economic activity at 2-digit level for some selected 20 cities was also generated. List of tables generated is enclosed at Annexure VIII.


1.21 A total of 231 tables giving the distribution of enterprises and their selected characteristics, by location, are generated in respect of each State/UT and all-India (Annexure IX). Out of these tables, 62 tables pertain to own-account enterprises, 159 to establishments and 10 tables give details of all enterprises. Distribution of enterprises by nature of economic activity (one agricultural and thirteen non-agricultural activity groups) with their employment, size class wise and district-wise was also presented in these tables.


1.22 The data processing activity of the Economic Census, 1990 was decentralized to be carried out through facilities available with the States and UTs or to be hired by them. The entire processing work in respect of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and West Bengal was undertaken by Regional Computer Centre (RCC), Department of Electronics, Jadavpur. The processing work of (1) Bihar, (2) UT of Chandigarh, (3) Haryana, (4) Madhya Pradesh, (5) Punjab and (6) Rajasthan was undertaken by RCC Chandigarh. The processing work of (1) Andhra Pradesh, (2) Assam, (3) Goa, (4) Himachal Pradesh, (5) Gujarat, (6) Karnataka, (7) Kerala, (8) Maharashtra, (9) Tamil Nadu, (10) Uttar Pradesh and (11) Delhi was undertaken using computer services available in their states, either as in-house facility of Directorates of Economics & Statistics or outside computer agency within the state. The processing work of Union Territory of Pondicherry was undertaken by the Directorate of Economics & Statistics, Tamil Nadu. The data processing work of the union Territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli was undertaken by the Directorate of Economics & Statistics, Gujarat alongwith its own processing work. Regional Centers of National Informatics Centre at Port Blair, Lakshadweep, Manipur and Bhubeneshwar have helped processing the Economic Census data of the concerned States/UTs.

1.23 The record layout for transfer of data from source documents to magnetic medium, software for (i) validation, (ii) auto-correction of data and (iii) generation of summary statements, main tables and derived tables were developed centrally at Computer Centre, Department of Statistics. These software were supplied to various Directorates of Economics and Statistics in States/UTs and other computer agencies involved in the data processing work. The role of Directorate of Economics and Statistics in States/UTs was to supervise and guide the computer agencies in the processing of Economic Census data and to prepare the state reports as per the guidelines issued and their publications. After the entire data processing at State/UTs level was over, the data tapes containing the auto-corrected data processed files of main and derived tables were sent to the Computer Centre, Department of Statistics. Thereafter the Computer Centre generated main, derived and other related tables at all-India level for report writing.


1.24 The National Industrial Classification (NIC), 1987 was used in Economic Census, 1990 for Classifying the enterprises.


1.25 The concepts and definitions of important terms used in the Third Economic Census, 1990 are at Annexure X.

1.26 In the chapters that follow, the salient aspects of the Census results at all-India level, separately for agricultural and non-agricultural sectors are discussed.


Enterprise and employment workers.


All the States/UTs of the country except Jammu and Kashmir


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


Data Description
File Description Cases Variables
02 Andhra Pradesh 2406880 35
03 Arunachal Pradesh 22697 35
04 Assam 477151 35
05 Bihar 1265733 35
06 Goa 60718 35
07 Gujarat 1311762 35
08 Haryana 458441 35
09 Himachal Pradesh 182408 35
11 Karnataka 1620701 35
12 Kerala 1229329 35
13 Madhya Pradesh 1481145 35
14 Maharashtra 2623502 35
15 Manipur 61656 35
16 Meghalaya 49971 35
17 Mizoram 23122 35
18 Nagaland 23771 35
19 Orissa 1100404 35
20 Punjab 601889 35
21 Rajasthan 1120648 35
22 Sikkim 10686 35
23 Tamil Nadu 2004827 35
24 Tripura 82200 35
25 Utter Pradesh 2710651 35
26 West Bengal 2752197 35
27 Andaman & Nicobar 7550 35
28 Chandigarh 33426 35
29 Dadar & Nagar Haveli 2700 35
30 Daman & Diu 5411 35
31 Delhi 454716 35
33 Pondicherry 30498 35



Download the questionnaires, technical documents and reports that describe the survey process and the key results for this study.
Other Materials
Enterprises Schedule
Enterprises List Abstract
Concept and definitions of important terms
NIC Code
State Code
State District Code
Data Layout
Format of Main Tables used in Third Economic Census
Format of Drived Tables (State wise)
Major Agricultural Activities
Major Non Agricultral activities
Summary Statement
List of activities groups for which the principal characteristics of enterprises are classified
Description of major non-agricultural activities