The Review of Black Political Economy

, Volume 34, Issue 3–4, pp 187–216 | Cite as

W. Arthur Lewis in Retrospect

  • Charles M. Becker
  • Terry-Ann Craigie


This paper reviews several themes from the writings of W. Arthur Lewis, both the first black Nobel Laureate in Economics and the first from a developing country, and examines them from the perspective of two to five decades of hindsight. The paper emphasizes three main interrelated aspects; economic growth, economic dualism, and “the evolution of the economic order”—the forces that drive the prices of goods and relative incomes across countries. Lewis’s messages still resonate today, as he foresaw the rise of industrial exports from developing countries—and also that it would not end the large gaps among nations’ standards of living. The paper both documents these rises and asks whether one could have predicted it from information available in the 1960s, or whether additional prescience was necessary.


Arthur Lewis Economic development Terms of trade LDC exports 



This paper has benefited from comments by and advice from Cecilia Conrad, William Darity, Edwin Mills, and Jeffrey Williamson, as well as from audiences at the 2005 National Economic Association sessions at the ASSA meetings. We remain responsible for errors and misinterpretations.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsMichigan State UniversityE. LansingUSA

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