We’ve heard of colours of the recycle bin, colours of the rainbow, but most likely not colours of the economy. This article lays a brief foundation on the colours of the economy.

Just like how colours of the recycle bin indicate the use of the bin (i.e. what type of waste should put in the bin); colours of the economy depict the sector of the economy.

There are basically seven colours of the economy. They include; black, white, grey, brown, blue, green and/or purple.


Traditionally known as ‘black market’. The black economy references illegal or underground activities and trades that violate existing laws such as drug smuggling and trafficking, resale of stolen properties, human trafficking/slave trade, etc.

It should be noted that the significance of the choice of colour has no relation to racism.


The white economy refers to the health industry in general. This involves all levels of medical practitioners and/or workers in the medical field, producers of medical equipment, drugs and supplements, and the type of equipment used.


Also known as the Informal or Underground Economy, the grey economy has much similarity with the black economy in that, they both occur underground (the government is unaware of their existence). However, they differ largely because; activities and trades carried out in the grey economy are legal and permitted. They occur underground because they are usually not registered (thus have no permission of existence) in order to evade taxes.

The grey economy is particularly popular, with much affinity for developing countries.

The grey economy is also known as the informal or underground economy, which refers to trade activities that are legal per laws but are not often registered in order to evade taxes. This is a particularly popular activity in developing countries, such as street vendors and unregistered factory workers.


The brown economy constitutes of the industries which are forerunners of high levels of pollution and gas emissions. These industries strive solely on fossil fuels and possess the highest carbon footprint. They are collectively the major cause of climate changes. Such industries are cement, mining, and broadly oil and gas.


The green economy draws its features from nature and preaches environmental sustainability. It is probably the most known type of economy and, refers to sustainable and environment-friendly economic activities, such as clean technology, agriculture, and renewable energy. It can be said that the green economy serves as an altering antagonist to the brown economy.


I like to call the blue and green economy twins, as they go hand in hand.

The blue economy refers to activities related to water resources, like marine biotechnology, fisheries, and aquaculture.

While the green economy unconsciously focuses on land, blue economy dives into the aquatic existence.


Purple for Humanity. The purple economy refers to social and care activities and services. This included education, healthcare, gender equality, women empowerment, support for the disabled and/or elderly, etc.

In present times of economic downturns and engulfing effects of COVID-19, it is necessary to take into critical consideration and prioritization of the green, blue and purple economy by policymakers.




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