Rostow’s Stages of Economic Growth pt. 1

One of the most important elements of economics is the ability to map out the path to economic growth and prosperity. This, historically, has proven to be a rather difficult thing to do, as there are many factors and ideologies that go into the equation of growth. What works for one country may not work for another, due to geographic, political, or religious factors. However, one major model for mapping this growth is Rostow’s Stages of Economic Growth, which was put forward by Walt Whitman Rostow in the 1960’s. Here is the framework that Rostow laid out…

Basic society

The first level that nearly every economy starts off at is called a basic, or “traditional society”. This stage begins the entire process of economic growth when a group of human beings begin to unite to create a community that is meant to support each other. In this stage, most traditional societies utilize hunting and gathering methods of sustainability, or rudimentary agriculture. They are also characterized by a basic level of technology, as well as very stable in terms of the lack of economic mobility and a low sense of individualism.


This stage of the process is where the foundation for a major economic take-off is laid out. Many products in the economy are beginning to be created for the purpose of exporting. Trade with other economies begins to develop. Technology starts to take leaps forward, and begins to be utilized in a variety of industries. Individualism begins to develop here, and citizens are able to achieve economic mobility. This is usually started by a degree of nationalism (which will need to disappear in later stages) and a high demand for imported products. Important infrastructure also begins to develop for further economic growth.

Take off

This is where a country begins to skyrocket, in terms of economic growth. GDP usually begins to grow by double digit percentages. There is a wide degree of industrialization and urbanization, where the population begins to settle in large population centers to focus on economic expansion. Secondary economic powers, which produce goods at rapid rates, begin to grow and overtake the primary economic powers, which only serve to immediately supply the population. Luxury industries and textiles and materials begin to expand, rapidly. The sudden supply and demand increase of textiles is usually the first, and most important step in achieving the take-off stage of economic growth.

Continued in pt. 2