Today Google decided to
honor accomplished economist, professor, and author Sir W Author Lewis, who was
awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics today almost 41 years ago. He was
acknowledged for his impeccable model of economics that focused on driving the
developing countries towards more independence.
The doodle is
illustrated by a Manchester-based artist Camilla Pu La Deshpande.
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It wouldn’t be wrong to
claim that the professor was amongst the pioneers of modern development
economics. And he made history by becoming the first Black faculty member in
London School of Economics, Princeton University, and British University.
Let’s start by
discussing his undeniable contributions to the field of economics:
He developed and
published the famous dual sector model in 1954 called “Economic Development
with Unlimited Supplies of Labor.” This model provided a framework for
relatively poorer countries to broaden their horizon by focusing on the development
and becoming economically independent. The primary assumption of this model was
the one characteristic that is shared by literally every poor country, i.e.
their economies are comprised mostly of subsistence sectors, due to which the
supply of labor increases the amount of capital invested per worker, which is
He explained a method
through which developing countries can foster faster growth and become members
of capitalistic sectors. This will encourage the employment of excess labor from
the subsistence sector. It is predicted that, in very little time, this
capitalistic sector overshadows the subsistence sector, forcing the economy to
The Lewis model depends
heavily on the simplification of assumptions to make the arguments precise and
clear, and due to this very predicament, the model can never be applied in real
world. Despite the idealism, the model is praised widely and used by many
economists who are working on economies desperately trying to escape poverty
Sir Lewis was born to a
family of immigrant teachers in 1915 in the Caribbean island of St Lucia. He
finished his schooling at the age of 14, and that’s when he decided to begin
working as a clerk in the civil service. Once he completed graduation, his
first choice was to become an engineer. After a couple of switches, he ended up
working as an economist as the governments and companies of West Indies, at the
time, refused to hire Black individuals.
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In his own words, when
he wanted to study business administration, he was racially discriminated due
to the bans placed on British colonies; Black men could only study to become
lawyers or doctors. The intention was to stop them from working directly with
“I did not want to be a lawyer or a doctor. I
wanted to be an engineer, but this seemed pointless since neither the
government nor the white firms would employ a Black engineer.” – He wrote in
his biography, which was later published by Nobel Lectures.
He eventually won a
scholarship to study at the London School of Economics in 1932, making him the
first black individual to win so.
Once he earned his
Bachelor of Science in 1937 and a PhD in 1940 at LSE, he applied and won a
position as a faculty member at LSE. He worked at LSE till 1948, after which he
started teaching at the University of Manchester. After a decade, he began his
teaching career at the Princeton University, settling in the United States. He
worked here for almost two decades, imparting knowledge to different generations
of students and then retired in 1983.
Apart from teaching,
Sir Lewis also served as an advising member to several African and Caribbean
governments, like Nigeria, Ghana, Trinidad, Tobago, Jamaica, and Barbados.
He drew a five-year development
plan (1959-63) for Ghana after the country gained independence. In 1959, when
he returned to his Caribbean roots, he got appointed as the Chancellor of the
University of the West Indies.
In 1963, the British
government knighted him for his extensive work in the field of economics and the dedication shown in teaching and other accomplishments.
It is inspiring to know
that a man who didn’t originally know what economics was ended up earning a
doctorate in industrial economics and secured a position as the first black
faculty member at LSE!
Anyway, if you go to
Google homepage, you’ll find Sir Arthur Lewis as the Google Doodle 2020. And
this step from Google is only to acknowledge Sir Arthur Lewis’s story.
We’re proud of you,