Sir William Arthur Lewis


 “The fundamental cure for poverty is not money but knowledge” Sir Arthur Lewis

Sir William Arthur Lewis was born in St Lucia on 23rd January 1915. He found himself excelling in school at a young age and completing the entire curriculum by age 14, allowing him to win a scholarship at the London School of Economics.

He was a pioneer; the first black man to win the Economics Nobel Prize and the first black man to be a professor of any university and in any field in the UK.  He has a building and a mascot named after him at the University of Manchester. He became professor emeritus of political economy at Princeton University.

His “two sector” model is taught across the world. As an economist, he is largely seen as the first major thinker in the field of development economics.  The dual-sector model (commonly known as the Lewis model) is a model in development economics which explains the growth of a developing economy in terms of a labour transition between two sectors - the capitalist sector and the subsistence sector.

Many economists have used the Lewis model as a framework for explaining the extraordinary economic development that China has achieved in recent decades. Peter Blair Henry is an economist whose own research has followed in the footsteps of Lewis’ work. Henry says that Lewis’ insight changed our understanding of the ways that poor countries can raise living standards for their citizens.

Find out more: Highly recommended podcast series - The History of Africana Philosophy, by Peter Adamson and Chike Jeffers

Ali Swaid