Every human being is engaged in one activity or the other. It may be cultivating land, preparing food, playing football, reading storybooks, studying in a school, teaching in a college, working in an office, jogging in the park and so on. If you try to ascertain as to why individuals engage themselves in one activity or the other, you will find that by doing such activities they are trying to satisfy some of their needs or wants. All these activities which human beings undertake to satisfy their needs or wants are called human activities. However, even if all human activities satisfy the needs and wants, they differ among each other in terms of the purpose for which they are undertaken and the end result.
For example, let us take the activity of preparing food – one prepared by a mother at home for her family and the other by a cook in a hotel. Here you will notice that the purpose and end result of the activity of preparing food (a) by a mother and (b) by a cook varies. In the first case, the purpose is to feed the family members without any expectation of monetary return while in the second case, cooking food is a part of his job so as to earn money in terms of salary or wage. The end result in the first case is ‘self-satisfaction’ and looking after the family, while in the second case it is ‘earning money’ for livelihood.
The human activities that are undertaken with an objective to earn money or livelihood are called economic activities. Whereas the other types of activities that are undertaken to derive self-satisfaction, are called non-economic activities. A farmer growing crops, a worker working in a factory for wage/salary, a businessman engaged in buying and selling of goods are examples of economic activities. While activities like meditation, engaging in sports for physical fitness, listening to music, providing relief to flood victims etc., are examples of non-economic activities.