The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Lewis, W. Arthur (1915–1991)

  • Ronald Findlay
Reference work entry


This article provides an outline of the career and contributions of W. Arthur Lewis, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1982. Born in 1915 on the Caribbean island of St Lucia, Lewis began his career at the London School of Economics before moving to Manchester University and then to Princeton University. While The Theory of Economic Growth (1955) and Growth and Fluctuations 18701913 (1978) have both been regarded as classics since they were first published, it is the 1954 article, ‘Economic Development with Unlimited Supplies of Labour’, that will probably remain as Lewis’s most famous and influential single contribution.


Development economics Dual economies Lewis, W. A. Nurkse, R. Periphery Surplus labour Terms of trade 

JEL Classifications

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Findlay, R. 1980. On W. Arthur Lewis’ contributions to economics. Scandinavian Journal of Economics 82 (1): 62–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Gersovitz, M. 1983. Selected economic writings of W. Arthur Lewis. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Gersovitz, M., C.F. Diaz-Alejandro, G. Ranis, and M.R. Rosenzweig. 1982. The theory and experience of economic development: Essays in honour of W. Arthur Lewis. London: George Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  4. Iyer, P. 1997. Tropical classical: Essays from several directions. New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  5. Kirkpatrick, C., and A. Barrientos. 2004. The Lewis model after 50 years. The Manchester School 72: 679–690.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Nurkse, R. 1944. International currency experience. Geneva: League of Nations.Google Scholar
  7. Sen, A.K. 1966. Peasants and dualism with or without surplus labor. Journal of Political Economy 74: 425–450.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Tignor, R.L. 2006. W. Arthur Lewis and the birth of development economics. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronald Findlay
    • 1
  1. 1.