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Sir William Arthur Lewis (1915 -1991)

Sir William Arthur Lewis (1915 -1991)

Sir William Arthur Lewis


Born:   23rd January, 1915, St. Lucia

Died:   15th June, 1991, Bridgetown, Barbados

Sir William Arthur Lewis was recognised as the leading authority in the area of development economics.  He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1979 and knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1963.  He was the recipient of thirty-one honorary degrees from universities in various countries.  He wrote twelve books, fourteen pamphlets and monographs and over eighty articles and chapters.  He lectured at the London School of Economics, the University of Manchester, and Princeton. He spent 5 years as the Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies and made a significant contribution to the establishment of the Caribbean Development Bank, and the pursuit of political unity in the Caribbean. In 1978 he was knighted by  Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and in 1979 was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics Science.  Sir Arthur Lewis  was burial on the grounds of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (named in his honour) on Morne Fortune in Castries.


Born in Saint Lucia on January 23rd, 1915 to George and Ida Lewis.  He was the fourth of five children.  

Arthur attended the Anglican School ; from there he won a scholarship to the Saint Mary’s College at the age of ten.  Two years later, he passed the Cambridge Junior Examinations. The next year he passed the Cambridge School Certificate. At fourteen   he had finished his Secondary education gaining   honours in both examinations.  

Unable to sit the examinations for the Saint Lucia Scholarship and the  London Matriculation, because of his age, Arthur entered the Civil Service, where he occupied himself with learning valuable skills of writing, typing, filing and of  being orderly.

On winning the Island Scholarship, he opted to study Economics in preference to Engineering, Medicine or Law. He believed this would be his way of entering the Municipal service or the private trade. He entered the London School of Economics to study for the Bachelor of Commerce.  

Arthur graduated in 1937 with first class honours, setting a record of finishing first in his class and obtaining first class marks in seven of eight subjects. He was awarded a Scholarship for a Ph.D. degree in Industrial Economics. This he completed in 1940.In addition, he was given a one-year teaching appointment that was later changed to a four year contract.  

In 1948 Arthur joined the University of Manchester , after having married the former Gladys Jacobs of Grenada the year before. The couple later had two daughters, Elizabeth and Barbara.  

Ten years as the Stanley Jevons Professor of Political Economy at the University of Manchester saw Dr. Lewis distinguish himself in academic scholarship and professional achievement.  He earned himself the Title “Consultant Physician to the Ailing Economies.” He served as a Con-sultant to a Number of Organizations including the Caribbean Commission.  

He was member of the following: Colonial Advisory Economic Council, (1951-1953); Committee for National Fuel Policy, Britain; United Nations Group of Experts; Board of Governors of Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford; He also served as Consultant to a number of Governments, these include Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Nigeria, Barbados and Ghana.  He was also Managing Director of the United Nations Special Fund in 1950.  

In 1959, Arthur Lewis accepted the post of Head of the Department of Economics at the University of the West Indies (U.W.I.). He also became the first West Indian born to head the University, serving as Principal and then as Vice Chancellor.  

As head of the University, he was responsible for expanding the University to a full-fledged independent institution with enrollment increasing from 690 to over 2000. He also established the School of Engineering at the University, working hard he was able to obtain funding for it from the Ford Foundation and the United Nations. He served the University until 1963, the year when he was knighted by Her Majesty the Queen. From 1966-1973 he served as Chancellor of the University of Guyana .  

In 1963 Sir Arthur, took up appointment at the Distinguished Princeton University , first as Professor of Public and International Affairs and then the prestigious position as James Madison Professor of Political Economy.

In 1971 Sir Arthur returned to the Caribbean to set up the Caribbean Development Bank, he also served as its first President until 1973, when he returned to Princeton .

Sir Arthur Lewis made history for Saint Lucia and the Caribbean when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1979. He received the prize after 25 years of contribution to the field of Economics. It was awarded for his research into the economic problems of Developing Countries.  

Sir Arthur in his academic career wrote many books, monographs, official papers, articles, and chapters in various books.  His most significant publications are:- Economic Survey(1918-1939), [1949], Principle of Economic Planning [1949], Theory of Economic Growth, [1955]; Development Planning, [1966]. The Agony of the Eight [1965].

He received numerous awards which include, Honorary Fellow of the London School of Economics and of the Weizman Institute. He also obtained a number of Honorary Degrees from The University of the West Indies, Boston College, Columbia University, Lagos University, Manchester University, Toronto University to name a few.

Sir Arthur’s main interests were in the Theory of Growth, Cyclical Growth of the World Economy, Economic Development and Planning, and especially Economic Development of the Commonwealth Carib -bean. His was the Economic Model of Industrialization by Invitation, a model adopted by countries like Jamaica , Malta , Singapore , Hong Kong and Maurititius. In 1985 Arthur returned home to a grand homecoming celebration during which the Morne Educational Complex was renamed the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College by an act of Parliament.  

The distinguished Son of the soil returned on his retirement to Barbados where he died on June 15, 1991. Sir Arthur’s body was flown to Saint Lucia where he was buried on the grounds of the College named for him.

Source: St. Lucia Nobel Laureates




1936:  The Evolution of Peasantry in the West Indies

1939:  Labour in the West Indies – Fabian Society, London

1940:  Economic Problems of Today – London

1945:  Monopoly in the British Industry – Fabian Society

1949:  Economic Survey 1919-39 – London and New York

1949:  Overhead Costs – London and New York

1949:  Industrial Development in the Caribbean – Caribbean Commission

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1950:  The Principles of Economic Planning – London

1950:  Land Settlement Policy – Caribbean Commission

1951:  Attitude to Africa – (with others) Penguin

1951:  Measures for the Economic Development of Underdeveloped Countries – (with others) United Nations Department of Economic Affairs

1952:  Report of National Fuel Policy – U.K. Government

1953:  Industrialisation and the Gold Coast – Gold Coast Government

1953:  Aspects of Industrialization – National Bank of Egypt

1955:  The Theory of Economic Growth – London and Homewood, Ill.

1960:  Why a University of the West Indies – Address of 1960 Matriculation Ceremony at University College of the West Indies, Jamaica

1961:  Eastern Caribbean Federation – Report to the Prime Minister Federal Government of the West Indies, Trinidad

1962:  Eastern Caribbean Federation: Further Notes

1962:  Proposals for Eastern Caribbean Federation of Eight Territories – Federal Government of the West Indies, Trinidad

1964:  Economic Problems of Jamaica – Daily Gleaner, Kingston

1965:  The Agony of the Eight – Barbados Advocate, Bridgetown

1965:  Politics in West Africa – (The Whidden Lectures) Allen and Unwin, London

1965:  Development Planning : The Essentials of Economic Polity – London

1967:  Reflections in Nigeria’s Economic Growth – O.E.C.D. Paris

1969:  Some Aspects of Economic Development – (The Aggey Memorial Lectures) London

1969:  Aspects of Tropical Trade – (The Wichsell Lectures) Stockholm

1969:  Partners in Progress – Pearson Commission (with others) Report to the World Bank, Washington

1970:  The Development Process – United Nations, New York

1971:  Socialism and Economic Growth – (The Annual Oration) L.S.E. London

1971:  Tropical Development 1880-1913 Studies in Economic Progress, London

1971:  Presidential Address to Board of Governors, 1st Annual General Meeting, Caribbean Development Bank, Bridgetown

1972:  Presidential Address to Board of Governors, 2nd Annual General Meeting, Caribbean Development Bank, Bridgetown

1972:  Some Constraints on International Bawling – Caribbean Development Bank, Bridgetown

1972:  The Evolution of Foreign Aid – (The David Owen Memorial Lecture) University of Wales, Cardiff

1973:  Presidential Address to Board of Governors, 3rd Annual General Meeting, Caribbean Development Bank, Bridgetown

1973:  Development Economics : An Outline – General Learning Corporation Modules, Morristown N.J.

1974:  Dynamic Factors in Economic Growth – (Tata Memorial Lectures) Orient Longman, New Delhi

1974:  The University in Less Developed Countries – International Council for Educational Development, New York

1978:  The LDC’s and Exchange Stability – (1977 Per Jacobsson Lecture) I.M.F. Washington

1978:  The Evolution of the International Economic Order – (Janeway Lectures) Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J.

1978:  Growth and Fluctuations – Allen and Unwin, London

The West Indies – London, Shelton Press (undated).



 Journal Articles


“The Inter-relations of Shipping Freights” – Economica, 1941.

“The Two Part Tariff” – Economica, 1941.

“Notes on The Economics of Loyalty” – Economica, 1942.

“Monopoly and the Law’ – Modern Law Review, 1943.

“An Economic Plan for Jamaica” – Agenda, 1944.

“Competition in Retailing” – Economica, 1945.

“Spare Time Activities of Employees” – Modern Law Review, 1946.

“Fixed Costs” – Economica, 1946.

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“The Prospects before Us” – The Manchester School, 1948.

“Colonial Development” – Transactions of the Manchester Statistical Society, 1949.

“Whiter Prices” – District Bank Review, 1949.

“The British Monopolies Act” – The Manchester School, 1949.

“Industrial Development in Puerto Rico” – Caribbean Economic Review, 1949.

“The Effects of an Overseas slump on the British Economy” – (with F.V. Meyer), The Manchester School, 1949.

“Developing Colonial Agriculture” – The Three Bank Review, 1949.

“Sur Quelques Tendances Seculaires” – Economic Appliquee, 1949.

“The Price Policy of Public Corporations” – The Political Quarterly, 1950.

“Industrialisation of the British West Indies” – Caribbean Economic Review, 1950.

“Issues in land settlement Policy” – Caribbean Economic Review, 1951.

“Food and Raw Materials” – District Bank Review, 1951.

“World Production, Prices and Trade 1870-1960” – The Manchester School, 1952.

“Reflections on South East Asia” – District Bank Review, 1952.

“United Nations Primer for Development : A Comment” – Quarterly Journal of Economics, 1953.

“Thoughts on Land Settlement” – Journals of Agricultural Economics, 1954.

“Economic Development with Unlimited Supplies of Labour” – The Manchester School, 1954.

“Trade Drives” – District Bank Review, 1954.

“Secular Swings in Production and Trade 1870-1931” – (with P.J. O’Leary), The Manchester School, 1955.

“Investment Policy” – Bulletin of the Oxford Institute of Statistics, 1955.

“Patterns of Public Revenue and Expenditure” – (with A. Martin), The Manchester School, 1956.

“International Competition in Manufactures” – American Economic Review, 1957.

“Employment Policy in an Underdeveloped Area” – Social and Economic Studies, 1958.

“Unlimited Labour : Further Notes” – The Manchester School, 1958.

“Recent Controversies over Economic Policy in the British Labour Party” – World Politics, 1958.

“On Assessing a Development Plan” – Ghana Economic Bulletin, 1959.

“Education and Economic Development” – Social and Economic Studies, 1961.

“Education for Scientific Professions” – Deadalus, 1962.

“Secondary Education and Economic Structures” – Social and Economic Studies, 1964.

“A Review of Economic Development” – (Richard t. Ely lecture), American Economic Review, 1965.

“Beyond African Dictatorship : the Crisis of a one-party state” – Encounter, 1965.

“Unemployment in Developing Countries” – (Stephenson Memorial Lecture), World Today, 1967.

“World Trade since the War” – Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 1968.

“Black Power and the American University” – University : A Princeton Magazine, 1967.

“The Economic Profile of the American Black” – Journal of Religion and Health, 1970.

“Summary : The causes of Unemployment in Less Developed Countries” – International Labour Review, 1970.

“The Caribbean Development Bank” – Proceedings of the 7th West Indies Agricultural Economics Conference, Trinidad, 1972.

“The Shortage of Entrepreneurship” – Journal of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce, 1973.

“Profits Do Work” – Developed Forum, 1976.

“The Dual Economy Revisited” – The Manchester School, 1979.

“The Less Developed Countries and Stable Exchange Rates” – Third world Quarterly, 1979.

“The Slowing down of the Engine of Growth” – American Economic Review, 1980.





“Nationalization as an alternative to Monopoly Control : the British experience” in – Monopoly and Competition and their Regulation, (ed.) E.H. Chamberlin, London, 1954.

“The Economic Development of Africa” in Africa in the Modern World, (ed.) C.W. Stillman, Chicago, 1955.

“The Economic and Social Council” in The United Nations, (ed.) E.A. Wortley, Manchester, 1957.

“The Shifting Fortunes of Agriculture” in Report of the Tenth International Conference of Agricultural Economics, London, 1959.

“Sponsored Growth : Challenge to Democracy” in Problems of Economic Growth, (ed.) M.K. Halder and E. Ghosh, Delhi, 1959.

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“Economic Conditions for Greater Agriculture Output”- Report of the Annual Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, 1960.

“Depreciation and Obsolescence as Factors in Costing” in Depreciation and Replacement Policy, (ed.) J.L. Meij, Amsterdam, 1961.

“The Emergence of West Africa” in The Promise of World Tensions, (ed.) H. Cleveland, New York. 1961.

“Science, Man and Money” in Science and the New Nations, (ed.) R. Gruber, New York, 1961.

“Competition and Regulation in the West Indies” in Economic Systems of the Commonwealth, (ed.) C.B. Hoover, Durham, N.C., 1962.

“Tension in Economic Development” in Restless Nations, (ed.) L.B. Pearson, New York, 1962.

“Social Services in Development Planning” in Planning for Economic Development in the Caribbean, Report of a Caribbean Organisations Conference, Puerto Rico, 1963.

“Industrialisation and Social Peace” in Conference Across a Nation, Report of H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Study Conference, Macmillians of Canada, 1963.

“Closing Remarks” in Inflation and Growth in Latin America, (ed.) W. Baer and I. Kerstenetzky, New Haven, 1964.

“Economic Development and World Trade” in Problems in Economic Development, (ed.) E.A.G. Robinson, London, 1965.

“Africa Economic Development” in Africa : Progress Through Co-operation, (ed.) J. Karefa-Smart, New York, 1966.

“Planning Public Expenditure” in National Economic Planning, (ed.) M.F. Millikan, New York, 1967.

“Unemployment in Developing Areas” in A Reappraisal of Economic Development, (ed.) A.M. Whiteford, Chicago, 1967.

“International Trade and Economic Growth” in Fiscal and Monetary Problems in Developing States, (ed.) D. Krivine, New York, 1967.

“Development Planning” in International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, 1968.

“Epilogue” in The West Indies : The Federal Negotiations, J. Mordecai, London, 1968.

“Economic Aspects of Quality in Education” in Qualitative Aspects of Educational Planning, (ed.) C.E. Beeby, Paris, 1969.

“On Assessing a Development Plan”, in Leading Issues in Economic Development, (ed.) G.M. Meier, New York, 1970.

“On being Different” in Speeches made at the 1971 Graduation Ceremony of the University of the West Indies, Kingston, 1971 (Reprinted in D. Lowenthal & L. Lomaters (ed.) : Aftermath of Sovereignty : West Indian Perspectives, Anchor, 1973.

“Report on the Industrialisation and the Gold Coast” in Economic Development and Social Change, (ed.) G. Dalton, New York, 1971.

“Objectives and Prognostications” in The Gap Between Rich and Poor Nations, (ed.) G. Ranis, London, 1972.

“Reflections on Unlimited Labour” in International Economics and Development (Essays in Honour of Raoul Prebisch), (ed.) L.E. DiMarco, New York, 1972.

“The Development Process” in The Case for Development : Six Studies, United Nations, New York, 1973.

“Development and Distribution” in Employment, Income Distribution and Development Strategy, (ed.) A. Cairncross and Y. Puri, London, 1976.

“Prospects for World Development” in Financing of Long Term Development, Institute of Bankers, London, 1979.

“The Diffusion of Development” in The Market and the State, (ed.) T. Wilson, Oxford, 1976.

“Development Strategy in Limping World Economy” in Proceedings of the 17th International Conference of Agricultural Economists, 1979, Oxford Institute of International Economics.


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