Shout out to Sir William Arthur Lewis

Biography of Sir William Arthur Lewis

Today is the first day of Black History Month in the UK so to commemorate that, I wanted to give shout outs to various Black British people. The first is Sir William Arthur Lewis.

Sir William Arthur Lewis was a Saint Lucian economist who was the first (and, as of 2023, only) Black person to win a Nobel Prize in Economics. He studied at the London School of Economics, receiving a scholarship to read for a PhD in industrial economics, and then become the first black faculty member at LSE.

He served as an economic advisor to African and Caribbean governments including Nigeria, Ghana, Jamaica, and Barbados, and received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1979, for their pioneering research into economic development research with particular consideration of the problems of developing countries.

Amongst Lewis’s key works include the Lewis model, also known as the dual sector model. This is a theory that explains how economies develop over time, suggesting that in developing countries, there are two sectors: the traditional agricultural sector and the modern industrial sector. Farmers in the agricultural sector have traditionally low productivity and earn little income, while workers in the modern industrial sector have higher productivity and better wages. The Lewis model suggests that, as an economy develops, surplus labor from agriculture moves to the urban sector for better job opportunities and higher pay and this migration helps increase production in industries and improve living standards for people in these countries.

In 2020, Google made a Google Doodle of Sir Arthur Lewis in commemoration of his Nobel Prize win, 41 years to the day.

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