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23rd January 1915 – 15 June 1991
Today would have been Sir W. Arthur Lewis’s birthday, he was a pioneer of modern economics.
Born in St. Lucia on 23rd January 1915, both of his parents were teachers of Antiguan descent.
When Lewis was a child, he was homeschooled for several weeks as he was unwell, and his Father was worried that he would fall behind if he didn’t.
Lewis’s father didn’t need to worry as when Lewis returned to school, he went from Year 4 to Year 6. From then on it became the norm for Lewis to study with others who were a few years older than him.
Unfortunately, his father died when he was seven years old, leaving his mother a widow to raise five sons – from the ages of five to seventeen.
Lewis credits his mother as the hardest working person that he knows, her compassion, love, and nurturing care enabled her to make a success of all five sons.
Upon finishing the school curriculum at age fourteen, Lewis left school to work as a civil servant clerk. The next step was to sit an exam for a St Lucia government scholarship to a British university, he had to wait until 1932 as he was too young.
When he did the exam he passed and won the scholarship although he was unclear what to do with his life.
The British Colonies had a Colour Bar imposed in all its colonies, so Black people did the scholarship in order to study law or become doctors where they could make a living without government support.
Lewis didn’t want to do either, he wanted to become an engineer which felt pointless at the time as neither the government nor white firms would hire a Black engineer.
He decided to study business administration, with plans to return to St Lucia to work in the municipal service.
Lewis studied at the London School of Economics to do the Bachelor of Commerce degree.
It offered accounting, business management, commercial law, and an introduction to economics.
He graduated in 1937 with first-class honours and LSE gave him a scholarship to do a Ph.D. in Industrial Economics.
At the age of 33 in 1948 he was a professor at the University of Manchester.
Lewis shifted his focus to world economic history and economic development and in 1954 published his foundational article “Economic Development with Unlimited Supplies of Labour.”
He also helped establish and served as the first president of the Caribbean Development Bank.
In honor of his lifelong achievements, the British government knighted Lewis in 1963.
Lewis became a Nobel Prize recipient in 1979 on 10 December, when he was jointly awarded the prize for his research in economics.
Thanking you Sir William for everything that you have done, we at Adeptales, salute you.
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