Walter Rostow’s Linear Development Theory

Topics: Economy, Human Development Index, Economic growth Pages: 6 (2117 words) Published: May 20, 2013
BSDS101: Assignment 1:
Outline the stages of Walter Rostow’s Linear development theory and discuss the theory’s applicability to the developing world. Introduction:
The question of why and how the developing world has since been developing at a relatively low pace has since been interpreted by various perspectives most of which are Euro-centric and highly debatable. A number of theories have since been formulated to explain why the developing countries are lagging behind in terms of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Gross National Product (GNP) are low. Some theorists such as Todaro and Smith (2009) went the extent of trying to understand why there is always a glaring gap of development between the developed countries and the developing world by formulating the wheels of a cycle thesis. Rostow proposed a clear five stage theory which he believed that for each country to develop it has to pass through sequentially. To Rostow, each stage in economic growth is unique and easily identifiable. He believed that the initial stage is the traditional stage, followed by the Pre-conditions for Take-off stage, then the Take-off stage, Drive to Maturity Stage and finally the High Mass Consumption stage. Though giving a brief explanation in the academia, Rostow failed to highlight the essential pre-conditions of the take-off stage. Moreover, Rostow’s theory does not realize how networked the modern world is, he assumes that for a country to develop it starts from scratch till it develops, not knowing that in some instances it is the developed world that invest in the developing world for the later to develop. This essay shall discuss the applicability of the economic growth model of Walter. W. Rostow (1916-2003) to developing countries. Definitions of terms:

According to Gutsa I, Mutswanga P,and Shumba B, (2010), A theory is an organization of generally accepted interdependent facts, concepts and principles of a phenomenon concerned with explaining what happens and the way it happens and what influence underlies the whole phenomenon. Developing World:

These are countries not industrialized and their economies run on the exploitation of their primary resources. Clerk (1995), refers developing world as those countries in process of changing and enabling people to take charge of their own destinies and realize their full potential. Economic Growth:

According to Todaro and Smith (2009), economic growth is the expansion of resources available in a society in a way that gives the available people an opportunity to make choices that better their lives. To Gylfason (2000) economic growth is a systematic increase in the available market opportunities and choices. Both definitions give a general impression that economic growth is a development of a society from a state of resource and opportunity scarcity to a state of abundance in which at least everyone in the society should be able to get whatever the goods or services he or she wishes. This essay shall look into Rostow’s growth model and test its applicability and flaws. Walt Rostow’s Linear Development Theory:

Traditional society stage:
Rostow’s Economic Growth model (1960) holds that all developed countries starts at the lowest level of development termed the Traditional Society Stage (Todaro and Smith, 2009). Rostow believed that all countries in this stage of economic growth exercise primitive production methods which do not require any skill of any rational level. During this stage, the society hinges its life on subsistence activities which yield meager enough for the family. He believed that a society of this stage usually survive on labour intensive agriculture, barter trade, hunting and gathering, and money do not exist in their midst. Personal resources and community resources are allocated by traditional means and methods involving cultural ceremonies, ritualization and involving no legal structures such as deeds. For instance land and property are inherited...
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