The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Dual Economies

  • David Vines
  • Andrew Zeitlin
Reference work entry


Dual economies have asymmetric sectors, the interaction between which influences the path of development. These are typically a rural, traditional, or agricultural sector on one hand, and an urban, modern, or industrial sector on the other. The relevant asymmetries are not merely technological but also include institutional, behavioural, and informational aspects. Modern treatments have grown out of the work of W. Arthur Lewis, whose model was based on the existence of surplus labour in agriculture. Subsequent authors have considered the implications of alternative assumptions for the development of a dual economy.


Agriculture and economic development Asymmetric information Capital accumulation Credit markets in developing countries Development economics Disguised unemployment Dual economies Engel’s law Harris–Todaro hypothesis Hecksher–Ohlin trade theory Immigration Kuznets curve Labour surplus economies Lewis, W. A. Malthus’s theory of population Neoclassical growth theory Outsourcing Pure surplus labour Rural–urban migration Scissors problem Subsistence Terms of trade Urban unemployment Wage differentials 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Vines
    • 1
  • Andrew Zeitlin
    • 1
  1. 1.