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The two economists John Fei and Gustav Ranis presented their dual economy model. There was a flaw in Lewis model that it did not pay enough attention to the importance of agri. sector in promoting industrial growth. But Fei-Ranis (FR) model of dual economy explains how the increased productivity in agri. sector would become helpful in promoting industrial sector. In this respect, it presents three stages whereby a UDC moves from stagnation to self-sustained economic growth. Thus, this model is treated as an improvement over Lewis model of unlimited supply of labor.

Basic Thesis of the Model:

This theory is concerned with a poor economy which has following properties:

(i) There is an abundance of labor in such UDC and shortage of natural resources.

(ii) The population growth rate is very high which results in mass unemployment in the economy.

(iii) The major share of population is engaged in agriculture. But agriculture sector is stagnant. Hence, the marginal productivity of labor is zero and negative in agriculture sector.

(iv) There are certain non-agrarian sectors in the economy where there is reduced use of capital.

(v) There is a dynamic industrial sector in the economy.

Thus the model suggests that:

“Economic development would be taking place if agricultural laborers are transferred to industrial sector where their productivity will increase”.

As we told earlier that it is a dual economy where there is a stagnant agri. sector and dynamic industrial sector. The situation where MPL – 0, labor can be transferred to industrial sector without any loss in agricultural output. The real wages in industrial sector remains fixed and it is equal to the initial level of real income in agri. sector. Such wages are given the name of institutional wages.

Stages of Fei-Ranis Model:

Fei and Ranis develop their dual economy model with the help of three stages of economic growth. They are presented as:


In the (a) part of the Fig., the labor supply curve is perfectly elastic, as between S and T. In phase (I) as shown in (c) part of Fig., the MPL = 0. In other words AL = MPL = 0. But here APL = AB. Following Lewis the FR model argues that AD units of labor are the surplus amount of labor in agri. sector which is prey to disguised unemployment. Therefore, they can be withdrawn from agri. sector without changing agri. output. In phase (II) APL > MPL, but after AD, MPL begins to rise (c part of Fig). The growth of labor force in industrial sector increases from zero to OG (a part of Fig). The APL in agri. sector is shown by BYZ curve (c part of Fig).

After AD as migration takes place from agri. sector to industrial sector MP, > 0, but AP[_ falls. This shows a rise in real wages for industrial labors because of shortage of food supply. An increase in real wages will reduce profits and the size of ‘surplus’ which could have reploughed for further industrialization.

The investment in industrial sector (with the surplus earned) will shift the MP curve outward right as from aa to bb and then to cc. In this way agri. sector will be able to get rid of labor until the MPL = real wages = AB =

constant institutional wage (CIW) which is obtained by dividing the total agri. output ORX (b part of Fig) by AD amount of labor. In other words, the slope of ORX curve represents real wage rate. Thus the MPL = CIW where the tangent to the total output line ORX at X is parallel to OX. In the second phase DK amount of labor were employed. But still MPL < CIW or CIW > MPL. It means that in this phase still a certain amount of labor is surplus or they are prey to disguised unemployment.

The first stage of FR model is very similar to Lewis. Disguised unemployment comes into being because the supply of labor is perfectly elastic and MPL = 0. Therefore, such disguised unemployed are to be transferred to industrial sector at the constant institutional wage.

In the second stage of FR model (phase) agri. workers add to agri. output but they produce less than institutional wage they get. In other words, in the second stage the labor surplus exists where APL > MPL, but it is not equal to subsistence (institutional) wages. Accordingly, such disguised unemployed also have to be transferred to industrial sector. If the migration to industrial sector continues a situation is eventually reached where the farm workers produce output equal to institutional wages. This would mean that productivity in agri. sector has gone up. With this the third phase (stage) starts.

In the third stage of FR model the take-off situation comes to an end and there begins the era of self-sustained growth where the farm workers produce more than the institutional wage they get. In this stage of economic growth the surplus labor comes to an end and the agri. sector becomes commercialized sector. All such is explained with the Fig.

Accordingly, they have to be shifted to industrial sector. As labor are transferred to industrial sector a shortage of labor will develop in agri. sector. In other words, it will be difficult for the industrial sector to get the labor at same prevailing constant wages. As a result, the wages in the industrial sector will rise as from T to Q in (a) part of Fig.

After point T the turn which occurs in the SZ curve is known as “Lewis Turning Point”. In the 3rd phase the agri. laborers produce more than CIW. (As here MPL > CIW shown in (c) part of Fig). In this phase the take off comes to an end and self-sustained growth starts. This is also known as point of commercialization (of agri.) in FR model. Here the economy is fully commercialized in the absence of disguised unemployment. Such commercialization took place at the cost of absorption of disguised unemployment in industrial sector.

The amount and time to re-allocate labor will depend upon:

(i) The rate of growth of industrial capital which depends upon the growth of profits in industrial sector and growth of surplus generated within the agri. sector.

(ii) The nature and bias of technical progress in industry.

(iii) The rate of growth of population. It means that the rate of labor transfer must be in excess of the rate of growth of population.

The three phases of labor transfer are summarized as:

In phase I: MPL = 0 and there exists the surplus labor equal to AD.

In pnase II: CIW > MPL > 0 and there exists the open and disguised unemployment equal to AK.

In phase III: MPL > CIW and the economy is fully commercialized and disguised unemployment is exhausted. The supply of labor curve becomes steeper and both agri. and industrial sector compete with each other to get labor.

Thus we find that whereas Lewis had failed to offer a satisfactory explanation of this subsistence sector and ignored the real impact of population growth on the choice of capital intensity on the process of surplus labor absorption. Moreover, FR model emphasized upon the simultaneous growth of agri. and industrial sectors. Thus FR model believes in ‘Balanced Growth’ in the take-off stage. It means that there should be a simultaneous investment in both agri, sector and industrial sector. According to FR model in the beginning the surplus rises; such surplus will bo available as a capital in the take-offstage. Some part of this surplus will be used in agri. development, while some part will be reploughed in industrial development. As a result, both agri. and industrial sectors will grow under ‘Balanced Growth’ pattern.

Thus, three major points are highlighted in the FR mode:

(i) Growth of agri. is as important as the growth of industry.

(ii) There should be a balanced growth of agri and industrial sectors.

(iii) The rate of labor absorption must be higher than the rate of population growth to get out of the “Malthusian Nightmare”.

FR model argued that surplus can be generated by the investment activities of the land lords and by the fiscal measures of the govt. However, leakages could exist because of the cost of transferring the labor from agri. sector to industrial sector in the form of transport cost and building of schools and hospitals, etc. Moreover, the transference may lead to increased per capita consumption of agri. output, and a gap may also emerge in case of rural wages and urban wages. Again, if the supply curve of- the labor is backward bending, the peasants may reduce their work effort as their incomes rise.


The FR model is considered to be an improvement over Lewis. This model presents a balanced growth of both the sectors of the economy, the most notable thing for the growth of UDCs. Despite this fact, this model has following shortcomings:

(i) Marginal Productivity of Labor in Phase I: The FR model is of the view that MFL = 0 in the first phase of growth, and the transfer of labor from agri. would not reduce output in the agri. sector in phase I. But the economists like Berry and Soligo are of the view that agri. output in phase I of FR model will not remain constant and may fell under different systems of land tenure, i.e., the peasant proprietorship and share cropping etc.

(ii) Marginal Productivity of Labor is Not Zero: Prof. Jorgenson who has also presented a model of ‘dual economy’ has object FR model’s contention of zero MP in phase I. He says whether MPL will be zero is an empirical issue. During the seasons of sowing and harvesting the MPL > 0. Jorgenson concluded on the basis of Japanese data even for the pre I world war period the supply of labor was not unlimited. Then how MPL can be zero.

(iii) Ignoring The Role of Capital: The FR model concentrated upon land and labor as the determinants of output, ignoring the role of capital. But Profs. Brown, Byres, Frankel, Griffen, Ghatak and Ingersent are of the view that in the UDCs there has occurred what is known as ‘Green Revolution’ in agri. which has promoted the greater use of capital and technology on lands. Consequently, there has been a greater increase in the agri. productivity and agri. incomes.

(iv) Open Economy: FR model ignored the role of foreign trade as it assumed a closed economy model. In the 2nd phase when agri. product decreases the TOT goes against industrial sector. This would occur in the presence of closed economy. But if the model is made open such would not happen as the goods could be imported in the presence of then-scarcity. This was especially observed in case of Japan which imported cheap farm products to improve her TOT (terms of trade).

(v) Supply of Land in Long Run: FR model assumed that in the process of economic development the supply of land remained fixed. But it is not true. The supply of land can be increased in case of long run.

(vi) Commercialization Of Agri. And Inflation: According to FR model when 3rd phase starts the agri. sector becomes commercialized. But it is criticized by saying that this phase does not start so easily The shifting of labor to industrial sector will create labor shortage in agri. sector. This will create shortage of food stuff leading to increase their prices. In this way, the inflation will generate which may obstruct the process of development.

(vii) Low Productivity in Agri Sector: According to Jorgenson it has been observed that there has been a very slow rise in the productivity of agri. sector. Consequently, the surplus will hardly be created in agri. sector. Accordingly, agri. sector will not contribute to development Thus the growth requires that the surplus must be generated and it should persist.