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Rostow's Stages of Growth in geography

American Economist, Rostow gave five stages of growth theory in 1960. As per Rostow, every economy passes through five stages proposed by him, and the present stage of the economy of a country is either of one of the proposed stages. Based on historical economic data, Rostow proposed the following five stages of economic growth.

Rostow's five Stages of Growth in geography
Rostow's five Stages of Growth in geography

Traditional Society:

  • More than 95 % of the working population is in the agriculture field.
  • No mechanized agriculture, only subsistence farming
  • The starting point of Science and Technology
  • Political power in the hand of the landlord
  • The concept of nation is lacking in this stage.
  • Conservative society
  • Prevent of illiteracy
  • Lacking basic infrastructure  such as hospitals, schools, roads, etc
  • For example, Afghanistan and Saharan Africa region are examples of the first stage of growth. During colonial rule, India was in this stage of development.

Pre Conditions for Take-off

  • India was in the second stage of growth after the 1950s
  • The same characteristics are found in the second stage of demographic transition 
  • Take-off takes place in some sectors and industries like Steel, communication, and transportation.
  • Mechanized agriculture started
  • Capital import increase for massive industrial setup
  • Improvement of the basic infrastructure like hospitals, schools, etc

Take-off Stage

  • Take off led only by Individual economic sectors.
  • Massive and progressive transformation in:
    • Economy
    • Society
    • Political
  • New Innovation in the production method
  • Self-sustained growth in basics goods
  • Duel economy concept that is mechanized agriculture and manufacturing economy.
  • During the 1960s, India was in this stage, while Britain attained this stage  during the 1790s

Drive to Maturity

  • Increase of specialists and greater professionalism in management
  • Prevalence of pollution
  • New product development
  • The major contribution of the Service sector to the GDP
  • At present, India and China are in this stage
  • In 1850, Britain was in this stage, while the USA was in 1900

Age of High Mass Consumption

  • National Policy to influence power beyond national boundaries
  • The major share in world trade
  • Sustainable economic growth
  • On the path to having the welfare state
  • High level of per capita income
  • High consumption per capita
  • Prevalence of in-migration for job

Criticism of Rostow's Model:

  • The sequence of the Rostow stage of growth is not true for every country's growth. For example, the USA and Canada were not in the first stage of development at any time. India bounced from an agricultural society to a service sector society.
  • Neglected the historical factors, religious factors, and other relevant factors.

Try to solve the following questions:
  • Critically examine the Stages of the Economic Growth Model propounded by Rostov. Illustrate your answer with suitable examples. (UPSC 2003, 15 Marks)
  •  Outline briefly the "age of mass consumption" as described by Rostow in his "multi-stage theory of growth". ( UPSC 2018, 150 words, 10 marks)
  • Explain the necessary conditions of takeoff and subsequent stages of development of a nation as propounded by Rostow.  (UPSC 2014, 250 words, 20 marks)

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