Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Which Nobel Laureate was rejected by The Economist magazine?

Arthur Lewis. The Economist (around 1937) gave the following reason;
They said that they could not hire a black journalist since he would have to interview people who might refuse to see him because of his color.

The British Colonial Office also refused as the positions in the colonial service were reserved for persons of European parentage.

The Liverpool University rejected him and suggested that he visit Liverpool several times during the next academic year so that the faculty, students and community could get to know him. In other words, as Lewis says;
so that public may be able to look at me and decide whether they can stand my appearance

During his time at LSE, one of the faculty pushed for greater recognition of him.
Hayek wrote the director about Lewis’s “anomalous” position on the faculty". He argued that Lewis deserved an “exceptional promotion” since he was doing the work of senior members of the department “and doing it with conspicuous success”. In Hayek’s view, Lewis was “one of the best teachers,” who at the least, deserved formal recognition in the form of a teaching citation, for “uncommon versatility and by his teaching, ranging over practically the whole field of economics.”

Source; W. Arthur Lewis and the Birth of Development Economics, By Robert L. Tignor

I got into the history of the world economy because Frederick Hayek, then Acting Chairman of the LSE Department of Economics suggested that I teach a course on "what happened between the wars" to give concreteness to the massive doses of trade cycle theory which then dominated the curriculum. I replied to Hayek that I did not know what happened between the wars; to which he replied that the best way of learning a subject was to teach it.

So I lectured on this subject for some years, and published a book on it in 1949. Among the questions that the book did not answer was whether the great depression of 1929 was sui generis, or one of a cycle stretching back into the nineteenth century. This I was determined to find out. However, data for the years before 1914 were sparse and unreliable, and I could not proceed faster than additions to the data and revisions would permit. I spent a lot of time with the data, and, between 1952 and 1957, published a stream of articles on world production, prices and trade from 1870 to 1914. However, I could never get the book done. In 1957, just as I was ready to start, I went off into administration for six years, never touching the subject. I returned to it in 1963, in my new professorship at Princeton University, to find that the four or five researchers of 1952 had now multiplied into a crowd of writers on this subject. I returned to improvement of the data and was just about ready to write my book when I went off to Barbados for four years setting up the Caribbean Development Bank. Returning to Princeton in 1974, I finally published in 1978 my account of growth and fluctuations in the world economy between 1870 and 1914. My Nobel Lecture derives from this sector of my intellectual interests.

St.Lucia Nobel laureates

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