Occupational Structure

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The occupational structure of any country is defined by the segment of a country’s population that is engaged in economic ventures and various professions. To define occupational structure more simply, the different demographic sections of a country who are employed in different sectors like agriculture, manufacturing and transport, among many others constitute the occupational structure of a nation.


Different nations have varied percentages of the population working in various sectors. A developing country like India had and continues to have a fair share of its population employed in agricultural and manufacturing divisions. In contrast, developed countries like the USA have a major share of people working in technology and research. 


To have a more sound knowledge of how occupational structure is vital for a country and its economy, we have to understand more about occupation meaning and how the workforce of an entire country effectively manages to contribute to their financial freedom.


Types of Occupations

An occupation of a person is defined as the principal work or business which he or she carries out on a daily basis to earn their primary earning. An occupation or a job provides for a person’s subsistence meaning it helps him to earn whatever is necessary to cover all the basic amenities of his life. 


Occupation in any country can be broadly divided into three major categories. These are the building blocks of occupational structure meaning these different professions can also roughly indicate how expansive the occupational structure of a country is. 

  1. Primary occupations of any country include agriculture, construction and animal husbandry.

  2. The secondary set of occupations include the people who work in manufacturing and servicing industries. 

  3. Tertiary branch of occupations encompasses the part of the population working in communications, transport, administration and other remaining services. 


Occupational Structure in Colonial India

During the long period when India was controlled by several European nations, mainly for her untapped and undiscovered wealth, the occupational structure of India was widely different than it is now today.


The agricultural sector amassed the highest percentage of people working, at around 70-75 per cent of the whole population. Whereas the manufacturing and service industries held the rest 25-30 per cent of the population. 


This was also equally dependent on the geographical disparity in the country. States like Maharashtra, Bengal and present-day Tamil Nadu and Karnataka saw a huge chunk of the population shifting from agricultural work to manufacturing and servicing industries, whereas states like Orissa and Punjab saw massive growth in the agricultural division at the same time. 


Features of Occupational Structure in India

  1. Dominance of Agricultural Sector

    1. The main occupation of Indian people was agriculture, which employed around 70-75 per cent of the population. 

    2. Due to a considerable fraction of the population already employed in agriculture, other industries did not see a boom in revenue and this was one of the reasons why the Indian economy never rose to its heights during the pre-Independence era. 

    3. There was no balance in the occupational structure. The primary occupations attracted more people, and so, the secondary and tertiary occupations never saw themselves contributing much to the national economy. 

  2. Growing Regional Dissimilarities

    1. States like West Bengal, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra saw a significant number of people, previously working in the agricultural sector, moving away from it. They started working in other secondary and tertiary occupations, which then started to balance the unbalanced occupational structure of the country.

    2. At the same time, states like Punjab, Orissa and Rajasthan shifted their focus hugely to agriculture and have continued to do it even now. 

    3. This whole process helped the Indian economy to balance itself, with all sectors contributing equally to the economy at present. 


Occupational Structure in Post-Independence India

The introduction of industrialisation after 1947 changed the occupational structure greatly in India. The previous alignment to the agricultural sector altered and many people who were previously working in primary occupations shifted their focus to secondary and tertiary sectors. The Indian government paid much attention to planning and transferred a part of the workforce to industries. 


This change in focus helped the Indian economy and the entire population equally. As much as the national economy was overly dependent on primary sectors before Independence, the case was not so after 1947. Equal amounts of revenue were being collected from all the occupational sectors, and hence, the balance among different sectors started to grow.


Also, the population began to earn from different sources. They ceased to depend only on agriculture for their primary source of income. This, in turn, increased employment opportunities in the whole country where people living in rural areas can focus on agriculture whereas those living in urban areas can pivot their attention to secondary and tertiary zones of occupational structure, which now fetched equal amounts of revenue. 


Now that you are thorough with occupational structures, let’s revise with a few MCQs. 


Knowledge Test :


  1. Almost _____ per cent of the population was employed in the agricultural sector before Independence. 

    1. 15

    2. 50

    3. 75

    4. 100


  1. States like _________ and Karnataka started showing growing regional dissimilarity in occupational structures.

    1. West Bengal

    2. Jammu and Kashmir

    3. Arunachal Pradesh

    4. Madhya Pradesh


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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What Is Occupational Structure?

The occupational structure of any country is defined by the segment of a country’s population that is engaged in economic ventures and various professions.

2. What Is The Relation Between Occupational Structures and Development?

The balance of occupational structure and development in a country goes hand in hand. Before Independence, most of the Indian workforce were dependent on agriculture as their primary source of income and the other secondary and tertiary sectors were left vacant.


But after Independence, this unbalanced occupational structure was resolved and a big part of the workforce was transferred to secondary and tertiary sectors. This made the whole economy more stable, and millions of employment opportunities were generated over a few years, which in turn helped become India what we are now.