Rostow's theory of the stages of economic development: what it is? how was it developed?

Topics: Investment, Economic development, Economics Pages: 3 (823 words) Published: May 30, 2004
In the eighteenth century the theory of the stages of economic development began to evolve. Adam Smith believed that underdeveloped countries went through four stages in order to achieve a high level of economic growth. These stages were titled hunting, pastoral, agricultural and manufacturing. Karl Marx also believed that there were four stages, he titled them capitalism, socialism, feudalism and communism. It is believed that Rostow's theory which contains 5 stages is an extension of these theories.

In the 1950's countries were suffering from the aftermath of World War Two. They became independent thus there became a need for new development policies. After the success of the 'US Marshall plan,' countries began to see the need for development and thus Rostow's theory was developed. It was considered a step by step process for an underdeveloped country to become a developed country. It was divided into five stages and was considered a 'linear,' theory.

Stage one was referred to as "traditional society," It is like Smith's hunting and Marx's feudal stage. This stage is very similar to the times of Medieval Britain. The key idea in this stage is survival. Agriculture is the most important industry and the main form of employment. In stage one manufacturing is very basic; it entails the production of basic tools. There is a poor infrastructure in transportation which makes most stay in one area for a lifetime and trading happens in one area. The small amount of trade which does occur is done by 'barter,' where one good is swapped for another. This trade is rare as most output is consumed only by the producers. The work is labour intensive and there is a limited quantity of capital.

Stage two is titled 'Tran conditional,' or otherwise known as the pre-conditions to takeoff. For this stage to happen the society generally needs to experience a shock such as a civil war or technology leap. The people here recognise the need for change. This is where the...
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