SIR ARTHUR LEWIS
NOBEL LAUREATE IN ECONOMICS
Greatness is measured by the quality of one's legacy to posterity. Sir William Arthur Lewis, Nobel laureate in Economics, has bequeathed to St. Lucia, the Caribbean, and the world, a legacy of rich insights, original thought and creative ideas in the field of Development Economics and related disciplines which will survive the test of time and which will serve as a beacon and inspiration to the people of St. Lucia and the Caribbean.
Born in St. Lucia on January 23, 1915, fourth son of George Ferdinand and Ida Lewis, Arthur Lewis in 1947 married Gladys Jacobs and had two daughters, Elizabeth and Barbara.
His passing on June 15, 1991 and burial on the grounds of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College in St. Lucia marked the end of a distinguished St. Lucian and Caribbean patriot.
His academic career has been characterized by records of unparalleled attainment: a scholarship at age 10 to enter St. Mary's College, completion of the Secondary School program in four years at the tender age of 17. At the London School of Economics, where he chose to pursue the degree of Bachelor of Commerce, he not only topped the class in the final exams, but established a record of distinctions which remains unequaled and unsurpassed. In 1940, Arthur Lewis successfully completed the requirements for a Ph.D. in Industrial Economics; in 1978 was knighted by Her Majesty the Queen and in 1979 was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics Science.
Sir Arthur took up the challenge of serving a developing world in search of economic freedom to match the political winds of change. He served in an economic advisory capacity in the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia and wrote profusely on development issues (10 books and over 130 monographs and articles).
In his early writings, Arthur Lewis challenged the hallowed international division of labor which ascribed to the developing world the role of provider of primary products to the developed world in exchange for manufactured goods. He prescribed for the developing world the potion of vigorous pursuit of both agricultural and industrial policies through the export of agricultural commodities, import substitution, the development of a self-sufficient economy based on the domestic market and the export of manufactured products.
In the Caribbean, critiques of Sir Arthur's prescribed strategy for industrialization of the then British West Indies was at one time an academic industry. "Industrialization by invitation" almost became a pejorative term. It would appear that the critics somehow spared themselves the pleasure of reading The Theory of Economic Growth. Sir Arthur had consistently contended that if there was a choice between foreign investment and domestic capital, the latter should be preferred. In the absence of domestic capital, foreign investment should, given its scarcity and competing claims for its use, be encouraged and offered incentives provided that the net results are favorable to the domestic economy and contribute to the development of entrepreneurial, management and administrative skills, the relative lack of which has hitherto served as a constraint on development in the Caribbean.
Throughout his distinguished career, Sir Arthur emphasized the need to promote and expand the frontiers of education as a vital component of the strategy of development. His teaching career as a lecturer at the London School of Economics, Stanley Jevons Professor of Political Economy at the University of Manchester and James Madison, Professor of Political Economy at Princeton, underline his contribution as an Educator, and his four to five year stint as Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI) highlight his pioneering role in the transformation and expansion of University education in the Commonwealth Caribbean.
Seven years after successfully completing his UWI assignment, the Government of the Region once again called on Sir Arthur to take on the daunting task of establishing a Regional Development Bank for the Caribbean. Through outstanding administrative and intellectual leadership, Sir Arthur was able in three years, 1970-1973, to provide the Caribbean region with a viable and internationally recognized development institution culturally attuned, sensitive and responsive to its quest for social and economic development.
Sir Arthur's labors in the Caribbean vineyard were not restricted to University
economic development. Political development, he saw, as a necessary concomitant to
the search for
the Caribbean identity and so he worked untiringly to help forge a Caribbean Political
His book, The Agony of the Eight is a lasting reminder of the need to continue the search for the holy grail of OECS and Caribbean political unity.
In St. Lucia today, Sir Arthur Lewis is honored as a national prophet for his outstanding and enduring contribution to:
The promotion of the discipline of development economics;
The social and economic development of the developing world in general;
The transformation and expansion of University education in the Caribbean;
The establishment of the Caribbean Development Bank and providing it with
the international stature required for its survival and sustenance, and
The unflagging pursuit of political unity in the Caribbean.
Above all, we honor and salute Sir Arthur for his timeless memento and enduring legacy to St. Lucia and the Caribbean - a lifetime of dedicated work and unswerving service bearing the indelible imprint of intellectual excellence and unparalleled achievement.
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|Citation on receipt of the Saint Lucia Cross|