W. Arthur Lewis

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Sir Arthur Lewis
Arthur Lewis (Nobel photo).jpg
Sir William Arthur Lewis, official Nobel Prize photo
Born
William Arthur Lewis

(1915-01-23)23 January 1915
Died15 June 1991(1991-06-15) (aged 76)
Nationality Saint Lucia, United Kingdom
Alma mater LSE
Known for Development economics
Dual-sector model
Lewis turning point
Industrial structure
History of the world economy
Spouse(s)Gladys Jacobs Lewis (m. 1947)
Children2 [1]
Awards Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (1979)
Scientific career
Fields Economics
Institutions LSE (1938–48)
University of Manchester (1948–58)
University of West Indies (1959–63)
Princeton University (1963–91)
Thesis The economics of loyalty contracts (1940)
Doctoral advisor Sir Arnold Plant

Sir William Arthur Lewis (23 January 1915 – 15 June 1991) was an economist well known for his contributions in the field of economic development. In 1979 he was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. He had dual Saint Lucian and British citizenships.

Economist professional in the social science discipline of economics

An economist is a practitioner in the social science discipline of economics.

Economic development is the process by which a nation improves the economic, political, and social well-being of its people. The term has been used frequently by economists, politicians, and others in the 20th and 21st centuries. The concept, however, has been in existence in the West for centuries. "Modernization, "westernization", and especially "industrialization" are other terms often used while discussing economic development. Economic development has a direct relationship with the environment and environmental issues. Economic development is very often confused with industrial development, even in some academic sources.

The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, commonly referred to as the Nobel Prize in Economics, is an award for outstanding contributions to the field of economics, and generally regarded as the most prestigious award for that field. The award's official name is The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.

Contents

Biography

Arthur Lewis was born in Castries, Saint Lucia, then still part of the British Windward Islands federal colony, as the fourth of five children of George and Ida Lewis. His parents had migrated from Antigua shortly after the turn of the century. [2] George Lewis died when Arthur turned seven, and Ida raised their five children alone. Arthur was a gifted student and was promoted two classes ahead of his age. [3] After finishing school at the age of 15, Lewis worked as a clerk, while waiting to take his university entrance exam. During this time he became friends with Eric Williams, the future first prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, and the two remained lifelong friends. [4]

Castries City in Castries Quarter, Saint Lucia

Castries, population 20,000, aggl. 53,639, is the capital and largest city of Saint Lucia, an island country in the Caribbean. The quarter with the same name had a population of 70,000 on 22 May 2013 and stretches over an area of 80 km2 (31 sq mi).

Saint Lucia country in the Caribbean

Saint Lucia is a sovereign island country in the West Indies in the eastern Caribbean Sea on the boundary with the Atlantic Ocean. The island was previously called Iyonola, the name given to the island by the native Amerindians and later, Hewanorra, the name given by the native Caribs. Part of the Lesser Antilles, it is located north/northeast of the island of Saint Vincent, northwest of Barbados and south of Martinique. It covers a land area of 617 km2 and reported a population of 165,595 in the 2010 census. Its capital is Castries.

British Windward Islands former British colony

The British Windward Islands was a British colony existing between 1833 and 1960 and consisting of the islands of Grenada, St Lucia, Saint Vincent, the Grenadines, Barbados, Tobago, and Dominica, previously included in the British Leeward Islands.

After gaining his Bachelor of Science degree in 1937 and a Ph.D. degree in 1940 at the London School of Economics (LSE) under supervision of Arnold Plant, [5] Lewis worked as a member of the staff at the LSE until 1948. In 1947, he married Gladys Jacobs, and they had two daughters together.

A Bachelor of Science is an undergraduate academic degree awarded for completed courses that generally last three to five years, or a person holding such a degree.

Doctor of Philosophy Postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities in many countries

A Doctor of Philosophy is the highest university degree that is conferred after a course of study by universities in most English-speaking countries. PhDs are awarded for programs across the whole breadth of academic fields. As an earned research degree, those studying for a PhD are usually required to produce original research that expands the boundaries of knowledge, normally in the form of a thesis or dissertation, and defend their work against experts in the field. The completion of a PhD is often a requirement for employment as a university professor, researcher, or scientist in many fields. Individuals who have earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree may, in many jurisdictions, use the title Doctor or, in non-English-speaking countries, variants such as "Dr. phil." with their name, although the proper etiquette associated with this usage may also be subject to the professional ethics of their own scholarly field, culture, or society. Those who teach at universities or work in academic, educational, or research fields are usually addressed by this title "professionally and socially in a salutation or conversation." Alternatively, holders may use post-nominal letters such as "Ph.D.", "PhD", or "DPhil". It is, however, considered incorrect to use both the title and post-nominals at the same time.

London School of Economics public research university in London, United Kingdom

The London School of Economics is a public research university located in London, England, and a constituent college of the federal University of London. Founded in 1895 by Fabian Society members Sidney Webb, Beatrice Webb, Graham Wallas, and George Bernard Shaw for the betterment of society, LSE joined the University of London in 1900 and established its first degree courses under the auspices of the University in 1901. The LSE started awarding its own degrees in 2008, prior to which it awarded degrees of the University of London.

That year he was selected as a lecturer at the University of Manchester, and moved there with his family. He taught at Manchester until 1957. During this period, he developed some of his most important concepts about the patterns of capital and wages in developing countries. He particularly became known for his contributions to development economics, of great interest as former colonies began to gain independence from European nations.

Lecturer tenure-track or tenured position at a university or similar institution

Lecturer is an academic rank within many universities, though the meaning of the term varies somewhat from country to country. It generally denotes an academic expert who is hired to teach on a full- or part-time basis. They may also conduct research.

Victoria University of Manchester British university (1851-2004)

The former Victoria University of Manchester, now the University of Manchester, was founded in 1851 as Owens College. In 1880, the college joined the federal Victoria University, gaining an independent university charter in 1904 as the Victoria University of Manchester after the collapse of the federal university.

When Ghana gained independence in 1957, its government appointed Lewis as their first economic advisor. He helped draw up its first Five-Year Development Plan (1959–63). [6]

Ghana Republic in West Africa

Ghana, officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country located along the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean, in the subregion of West Africa. Spanning a land mass of 238,535 km2 (92,099 sq mi), Ghana is bordered by the Ivory Coast in the west, Burkina Faso in the north, Togo in the east and the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean in the south. Ghana means "Warrior King" in the Soninke language.

In 1959 Lewis returned to the Caribbean region when appointed Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies. In 1963 he was knighted for his contributions to economics.

University of the West Indies International university in the Caribbean

The University of the West Indies (UWI), originally University College of the West Indies, is a public university system established to serve the higher education needs of the residents of 17 English-speaking countries and territories in the Caribbean: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos Islands. Each country is either a member of the Commonwealth of Nations or a British Overseas Territory. The aim of the university is to help 'unlock the potential for economic and cultural growth' in the West Indies, thus allowing improved regional autonomy. The University was originally instituted as an independent external college of the University of London.

The dignity of Knight Bachelor is the basic and lowest rank of a man who has been knighted by the monarch but not as a member of one of the organised orders of chivalry; it is a part of the British honours system. Knights Bachelor are the most ancient sort of British knight, but Knights Bachelor rank below knights of chivalric orders.

That year, he was also appointed a University Professor at Princeton University and moved to the United States. Lewis worked at Princeton for the next two decades, teaching generations of students until his retirement in 1983. In 1970 Lewis also was selected as the first president of the Caribbean Development Bank, serving in that capacity until 1973. [7]

Lewis received the Nobel prize in Economics in 1979, sharing it with Theodore Schultz. [2]

He died on 15 June 1991 in Bridgetown, Barbados. He was buried in the grounds of the St Lucian community college named in his honour. He was survived by his wife, Gladys Jacobs, Lady Lewis of Barbados and Princeton, NJ; two daughters, Elizabeth Lewis of Cranbury, NJ, and Barbara Virgil of Brooklyn; and four brothers: Stanley Lewis of Ghana, Earl Lewis of Trinidad, Allen Montgomery Lewis, a former Governor General of St Lucia, and Victor Lewis of St Lucia.

Legacy and honours

Key works

The "Lewis model"

Lewis published in 1954 what was to be his most influential development economics article, "Economic Development with Unlimited Supplies of Labour" (Manchester School). [8] In this publication, he introduced what came to be called the dual sector model, or the "Lewis model". [9]

Lewis combined an analysis of the historical experience of developed countries with the central ideas of the classical economists to produce a broad picture of the development process. In his theory, a "capitalist" sector develops by taking labour from a non-capitalist backward "subsistence" sector. The subsistence sector is governed by informal institutions and social norms so that producers do not maximise profits and workers can be paid above their marginal product. At an early stage of development, the "unlimited" supply of labour from the subsistence economy means that the capitalist sector can expand for some time without the need to raise wages. This results in higher returns to capital, which are reinvested in capital accumulation. In turn, the increase in the capital stock leads the "capitalists" to expand employment by drawing further labour from the subsistence sector. Given the assumptions of the model (for example, that the profits are reinvested and that capital accumulation does not substitute for skilled labour in production), the process becomes self-sustaining and leads to modernization and economic development. [10] [11]

The point at which the excess labour in the subsistence sector is fully absorbed into the modern sector, and where further capital accumulation begins to increase wages, is sometimes called the Lewisian turning point. It has recently been widely discussed in the context of economic development in China. [12]

The Theory of Economic Growth

Lewis published The Theory of Economic Growth in 1955 in which he sought to “provide an appropriate framework for studying economic development,” driven by a combination of “curiosity and of practical need.” [11] [13]

See also

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References

Citations

  1. "LEWIS, W. Arthur" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 21, 2013. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  2. 1 2 "The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 1979", Nobel in Economics, 1979. Accessed 5 January 2011.
  3. Tignor, Robert L. (2006). W. Arthur Lewis and the Birth of Development Economics. Princeton University Press. pp. 7–8. ISBN   978-0-691-12141-3.
  4. Tignor, pp. 11–13.
  5. Tignor, Robert L. (2006). W. Arthur Lewis and the Birth of Development Economics. Princeton University Press. ISBN   978-0691121413.
  6. Felix Brenton, "Sir (William) Arthur Lewis (1915–1991)", Black Past website.
  7. "Sir Wm. Arthur Lewis: President 1970 – 1973", Caribbean Development Bank.
  8. Hunt, Diana (1989). "W. A. Lewis on 'Economic Development with Unlimited Supplies of Labour'". Economic Theories of Development: An Analysis of Competing Paradigms. New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf. pp. 87–95. ISBN   978-0-7450-0237-8.
  9. Gollin, Douglas (2014). "The Lewis Model: A 60-Year Retrospective". Journal of Economic Perspectives . 28 (3): 71–88. doi:10.1257/jep.28.3.71. JSTOR   23800576.
  10. Lewis, W. Arthur (1954). "Economic Development with Unlimited Supplies of Labour". The Manchester School . 22 (2): 139–91. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9957.1954.tb00021.x.
  11. 1 2 Leeson, P. F.; Nixson, F. I. (2004). "Development economics in the Department of Economics at the University of Manchester". Journal of Economic Studies . 31 (1): 6–24. doi:10.1108/01443580410516233.
  12. "China Reaches Turning Point as Inflation Overtakes Labor". Bloomberg. 11 June 2010.
  13. W. Arthur Lewis (2013). Theory of Economic Growth. Routledge. ISBN   978-0-415-40708-3.

Sources

  • Biography
  • Biography on the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College website
  • Breit, William, and Barry T. Hirsch (eds, 2004). Lives of the Laureates (4th edn). Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press. ISBN   0-262-52450-3.
  • Lewis, William Arthur (2003). The Theory of Economic Growth. London: Taylor and Francis, 453 pages. ISBN   978-0-415-31301-8.
Awards
Preceded by
Herbert A. Simon
Laureate of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics
1979
Served alongside: Theodore W. Schultz
Succeeded by
Lawrence R. Klein