- Paperback: 324 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 3 edition (February 22, 1991)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0521409284
- ISBN-13: 978-0521409285
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #973,247 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto 3rd Edition
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"...the most stimulating contribution to political and economic discussion made by any academic economist since the war." The Economist
"Imaginative, stimulating statement of the economic goals of technologically underdeveloped nations, and how they can be most effectively achieved, without resort to Communism." The New York Times
"This interesting, well-written and important book projects a new light on various problems and will be much discussed. Its 167 pages of text provide a world history of the last century or two in terms of the stages of economic growth of the principal nations." Financial Times
Five basic stages of economic growth are distinguished in an account of economic growth based on a dynamic theory of production and interpreted in terms of actual societies.
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Top Customer Reviews
Obviously the world has changed. We live in an age of irony, not optimism, and we now appreciate the role of politics in both encouraging and retarding economic growth. Science is more nonlinear, nondeterministic, and political economy recognizes the existence of multiple paths to any end point. Communism is dead.
Despite that, the argument here is still worth reading. It was very influential in its day, and set the tone for a lot of work on development (whether still recognized or not). Rostow presents the material clearly and concisely. The causal links between the various stages remain very unclear to me, and to others, but that gap still represents a promising research agenda for those interested in how some countries get stuck at one level of economic development or another.
Rostow's conviction that the U.S. would win may have been closely related to his theory of the five-stages of growth. All societies, he judged, went through five stages - traditional, pre-conditions for take-off, take-off, the drive to maturity, and the age of mass consumption.
If one takes the five stages literally, eventually all societies will reach the age of mass consumption. Modern technology would make all social systems so productive that conflict over resources of all kinds will cease to exist. With nothing material left to fight over, and with societies becoming more homogeneous, we would be at "the end of ideology." Rostow, it seems, was willing to fight on until both Viet Nams reached the comfortable age of high consumption. Probably an unfair assertion on my part, but give Rostow's view of the way that societies develop, what did he think we were fighting for?
As we so painfully saw, however, Rostow's stages of growth did not end the war, and even today Viet Nam is far from being a nation where high consumption prevails. Even when his theory of the stages of growth was in vogue, moreover, mention of it in a graduate eonoomics class invariably evoked smirking and prompted laughter. The stages were too ill-defined, the process of movement from one to another was a mystery, and why should all societies go through five similar stages?
In fairness to Rostow, his point of view, leading to technological triumph over need and the consequent end of conflict, was a commonplace point of view among political scientists and sociologists. See, for example, Inkeles and Smith's Becoming Modern, Daniel Bell's The End of Ideology, and Frances Fukuyama's The End of History. Besides, mainstream economists today are not enjoying any greater success than Rostow did in his time.
Rostow lived the greater part of his life through the era of the social contract, form 1946 to 1972, a period during which everyone seemed to be a technocrat and technology was sure to triumph. Sadly, as with so many others, he was wrong. I wonder what he would have made of the ethnic and religious conflicts that threaten us today? I wonder how he'd explain why so much of the less developed world has failed to develop?
If you are considering becoming a communist, please read this book first. You will change your mind. The Marxist method has failed everywhere it has been tried. Professor Rostow shows you the numbers and gives you the proof.