Definition of Sir Arthur Lewis
Who is Sir Arthur Lewis?
Sir Arthur Lewis was an economist who made lasting contributions to the field of development economics. In 1979 Lewis was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics.
Lewis’ career has had many milestones. As well as being the first black person to win a Nobel Prize in a scientific discipline, Lewis was also the first black student at the London School of Economics (LSE), the first black teacher at LSE, the first black professor to the University of Manchester, and the first black person to become a full professor at Princeton University, where he taught for 20 years.
Key points to remember
- Sir Arthur Lewis was an economist famous for his work in development economics.
- He received the Nobel Prize in economics in 1979.
- His best-known work is the two-sector model of development economics, also known as the “Lewis model”.
Understanding Sir Arthur Lewis
Sir Arthur Lewis was born in 1915 in the Caribbean island nation of Saint Lucia. He showed remarkable intellectual abilities from an early age, skipping full two years and graduating from school at the age of 14. Soon after, he won a scholarship which allowed him to study as an undergraduate at the London School of Economics (LSE).
Lewis was the only black student at LSE at the time, and despite the prejudices that arguably greeted him there, he soon established a reputation for academic excellence. In fact, Lewis’s undergraduate advisor described Lewis as the brightest student he has ever supervised. After obtaining his undergraduate degree in 1937, Lewis enrolled in the doctoral program, which he completed in 1940. After graduating, he was hired as a faculty member at LSE, where he worked until 1948.
In 1948 Lewis accepted a position as a lecturer at the University of Manchester, where he remained until 1957. It was during this time that he developed the ideas in development economics for which he would later obtain the award. Nobel. The most famous of these ideas was his two-sector model, otherwise known as the “Lewis model”.
Concrete example of Sir Arthur Lewis’ ideas
Lewis introduced the dual sector model in his 1954 publication, “Economic Development with Unlimited Supplies of Labor”.
Lewis’ model seeks to provide a framework for understanding how relatively poor countries can develop economically. He begins by assuming that one of the characteristics shared by poor countries is that their economies tend to be made up largely of “subsistence sectors” in which the supply of labor is very large and the amount of capital invested. per worker is very low.
Lewis’ model describes a way in which a developing economy can foster the growth of a new “capitalist sector”, which will employ an increasing share of the surplus labor available in the subsistence sector. Over time, this capitalist sector can come to eclipse the subsistence sector, resulting in the growth of the overall economy.
Like all economic theories, Lewis’ model relies on simplifying assumptions to clarify its argument. Therefore, Lewis’ model will never be perfectly applicable to reality. Nonetheless, it has been widely welcomed and used by economists interested in how developing economies can escape poverty and generate wealth. For example, many economists have used Lewis’ model as a framework to explain the extraordinary economic development that China has achieved in recent decades.