Rostow's Stages of Capitalist Takeoff


Presentation Description

A summary of Rostow's seminal theory, which has now evolved into the IMF's multiples steps in progressions to launch capitalist takeoff


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Linear Stages Theory and Rostow's Stages of Economic Growth :

Linear Stages Theory and Rostow's Stages of Economic Growth Summary of W. W. Rostow’s , The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto Viv Grigg/ Josh Lopez

W.W. Rostow :

W.W. Rostow A h istorical economics t heorist of the 1950s and early 1960s Historical experience of transforming economies from poor agricultural subsistence societies to modern industrial giants had important lessons for backward countries in Asia , Africa and Latin America.

Ideal Societies in Historical Anthropology:

Ideal Societies in Historical Anthropology Dimension of Integration Band Tribal Peasant Urban/Modern Postmodern Megacity Economic Production Mobile Slash and Burn Settled Agriculture Manufacturing + Agriculture High Tech + Manufacturing + Agriculture Leadership & Decision-making Familial Clans and Chiefs Feudal Lord and Peasant Councils, elections Big Man, diverse Technology Stone age Bronze, iron utensils Farming utensils, blacksmith City systems, auto, manufactured goods Electronic, biological, internet Religion Spirit worship Spirit, totemic Folk Religion within Larger traditions Multiple traditions, disjoint, secularising Multi-dimensioned Cross overs, secular etc !0,000 year progressions

Rostow as Reaction to Marx:

Rostow as Reaction to Marx Marx’s Communist Manifesto purported to be a historic analysis of the evolution of society from feudal monarchy into modernism Unfortunately he only had the British model to build from – neither France, nor Russia had made the transition. It floundered when the proleteriat did not wish to rule – a central platform in his argument. Lenin fixed this by making sure they ruled through his dictatorship. The M arxist rejection of morality and the consensus processes of democracy Rostow is reflecting on an alternative historic analysis which becomes the basis of interpretation of expanding global capitalism and current WB/ UN development processes

W.W. Rostow's Stages of Economic Growth: :

W.W. Rostow's Stages of Economic Growth: The process where developed industrial nations transformed themselves from backwardness to prosperity can be described in terms of a series of stages: ( 1) Traditional society ( 2) Pre-conditions to take- off ( 3) Take- off ( 4) Drive to maturity ( 5) High mass consumption

(1) Traditional Society::

(1) Traditional Society : One whose production functions are based on pre -Newton science and technology. Method places a ceiling on productivity. Higher proportion of resources is devoted to agriculture. Humans valued on family basis, not on the basis of capabilities . The range of possibilities for a grandchildren are the same what they were for grandfather . The society is ruled by those who owned or controlled land. (e.g . Medieval Ages in Europe)

Pre-Conditions to Take Off (1):

Pre-Conditions to Take Off (1) Establishment of Financial I nstitutions Establishment of an efficient state vs landlordism (in his last chapter) the necessary conditions for people-lead governmental processes Based on an underlying theology of the worth of the individual and of consensus decision-making (my addition).

Pre Conditions to Take Off (2):

Pre Conditions to Take Off (2) Crucial Role By Agriculture:   ( a) To meet the increased needs of growing population . ( b) With agri. surplus foreign exchange can be earned to meet the import bill of capital goods . ( c) The overall increase in the productivity due to agri. development will provide stimulus to other sectors of the economy. Agri . sector must supply expanded food, expanded markets and expanded funds to the modern sector . ( ii) Growing Outlays on SOC:  SOC has three distinctive characteristics :   ( a) The gestation period is long, (b) lumpy , (c) beneficial for the community.

(3) Take Off Stage::

(3) Take Off Stage: A break -through in the history. More than two or three decades. Three conditions must be satisfied : ( i ) r ate of investment must rise from 5% to 10% of GNP ( ii) development of one or more substantial manufactured sector with high growth rate ( iii) existence of social, political and institutional framework which could give impulses to modern sector expansion .

(3) Take Off Stage::

(3) Take Off Stage: ( i ) Increase in rate of investment: attached with changes in income distribution, (e.g. income begins flows into the hands of capitalists who re-invest to increase rate of capital formation.) Capital formation will further be promoted by fiscal measures of govt., banking institutions and capital markets.  (ii) Emergence of leading sectors:  Entrepreneurs of one or two leading sectors re-plough their profits. Moreover, the expansion of leading sectors helps to pay for imports and debt charges. (e.g. Canadian grain, Swedish timber and Japanese silk).  Loanable funds play an important role in the emergence of leading sectors, particularly in financing large overhead capital. 3 sectors:(a) Primary growth sectors, (b) The Supplementary growth sectors,(c) The Derived growth sectors

(4) Drive to Maturity Stage::

(4) Drive to Maturity Stage : 40 years after the take-off stage long interval where economy experiences a regular growth and modern technology extended to a bulk of resources. May be shift in emphasis from coal, iron and heavy engineering to machine tools, chemicals and electrical equipment's. Germany, France, UK and US passed through this period during the end of 19th century. 10 % to 20% of GNP ploughed in investment, output grows more than increase in population. Goods which were earlier imported now produced at home. Economy becomes a part of international economy.                

(5) Age of High Mass Consumption Stage: :

(5) Age of High Mass Consumption Stage: As societies achieved maturity in 20th century, real incomes rose and people became aware/anxious to have a command over consumption of fruits of mature economy. Leading sectors produced consumer durables (e.g. TV , fridges and automobiles, etc .) Society pays more attention on social welfare & social security than economic growth. (US passed through stage in 1913-14, and post war 1946 -56 .)

Practical Importance of Rostow's Stages::

Practical Importance of Rostow's Stages : UDCs must learn lessons from economic history of advanced nations. (a)follow the rules of development to take-off and then to self-sustaining economic growth, (b) mobilize domestic and foreign savings in order to generate sufficient investment to accelerate economic growth E.g. Harrod Domar Model of Econ Growth Rostow stage theory stressed upon capital formation for the sake of economic development & H -D model guides UDCs


Criticisms R 5 stages -against Marx stages of feudalism, bourgeoisie, capitalism, socialism and communism. Exist certain dissimilarities in both these approaches. (e.g. Rostow did not discuss the class conflict, while it is very much available in Marx's stage theory). ( i )Stage Making Idea is Misleading:   all the nations have passed through these stages. Not all the nations have followed this route due to different environment and resources etc.  (ii) Leading Sectors:  leading sectors are responsible for economic expansion, Kuznets says that Rostow did not identify the chronology of leading sectors .


Criticisms ( iii) Data is Unconfirmed:  Kuznets says that the statistical data presented by Rostow regarding doubling of productivity in the period of take-off stage is not reliable and confirmed . (iv ) No Distinction Between Pre-Conditions and Take-Off:  characteristics of pre-conditions and take-off very much similar, not possible to assess when take-off starts after pre-conditions . ( v) Self-Sustained Growth:  Kuznets greatly criticized self-sustained growth (during takeoff stage, as increase in per capita income, savings , and investment may take place before take-off . ( vi) Pre-Conditions is Not a Chronological Concept:  Caironcross , incorrect to say that SOC will attain minimum size before the take-off . Rostow's views on agriculture are not true historically, some countries agri. expanded during industrialization, and SOC was mostly required during the industrialization . ( vii) Idea of Increase in Investment is Not New:   increase in investment from 5% to 10%   will take the economy into take-off stage, Caironcross says that this is not a new idea

Rostow's Stages and UDCs::

Rostow's Stages and UDCs : Rostow stages have a greater appeal for UDCs, take-off stage analogous to industrialization, UDCs desirous to industrialize their economies a.s.a.p. Exist following problems whereby Rostow and H-D models will be least beneficial for UDCs: ( i ) Attitudes and Arrangements in UDCs:   Rostow and H-D models were found applicable in DCs because the European countries received aid under  'Marshall Aid Program' , to construct war affected economies of Europe possessed necessary structural, institutional and attitudinal conditions (e.g. had well integrated commodity and money markets, highly developed transport facilities, well trained and educated manpower, the motivation to succeed, and efficient govt. bureaucracy)

Rostow's Stages and UDCs::

Rostow's Stages and UDCs : (ii) Removal of Unemployment:  conditions do not entertain the case of countries which have abundance population, and increasing unemployment. (iii) Value of COR is not Constant:  In Rostow &H-D models of growth the value of  COR  has been kept constant. (iv) Spontaneous and Automatic Growth:   Rostow's take offstage shows that here the growth is automatic and spontaneous. But in case of UDCs, there does not exist any possibility that a sudden growth will take place. (v) Integration with World Economy:  Today the UDCs are well integrated with the world economy. The external factors which are beyond their control can nullify the best strategies followed by UDCs. It means that development can not be attained just through supplying the missing factors like capital, foreign exchange and skill.


References Rostow , W.W. (1991).  The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto  (3rd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press .'s_stages_of_economic_growth.htm

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