Based on Rostow's Model of Development, compare and contrast the stages of Belgium and South Africa.
Walter Rostow’s 1960 “Model of Development” proposes that society gradually moves along a linear path to higher economic development, citing 5 specific stages. Stage one is “Traditional Society,” which is dominated by subsistence-oriented agriculture, hierarchical society with low upward or social mobility, and a “barter” style of trade. Stage two, “Preconditions for Take-Off”, includes the development of specialization and infrastructure, usually accompanied by an industrial revolution, and the expansion of agriculture to produce surpluses. This stage can either occur as a result of internal development, or can be spurred on by external involvement from more advanced societies, through mechanisms like colonialism. The third stage, “Take Off”, is characterized by dynamic economic growth, or self-sustained growth that doesn’t require external inputs. It features further industrialization, regional growth, and political changes. “Drive to Maturity,” stage four, involves diversification and innovation, as well as reduced reliance on imports. Investments rise along with general social and economic prosperity. Ultimately, a society will reach stage five, or the “Age of High Mass Consumption.” This stage is defined by the majority of society being prosperous, with both an abundance and variety of choices in a consumer-oriented market. Also, the service sector becomes dominant. Rostow considered most of Western societies, like Canada, the U.S., and U.K. to have reached this final stage. In defining where Belgium and South Africa lie in this trajectory, it is important to note that one of the major shortcomings of this theory is that societies rarely fall neatly into one stage or the other. South Africa, for example, is arguably between “Take-Off” and “Drive to Maturity.” On the one hand, South Africa’s estimated GDP for 2015, $724 billion US dollars, is the 31st greatest in the world. But the GDP per capita (PPP) is only $13,400, which ranks 117/230. Belgium, to compare, is between the “Drive to Maturity” and “Age of High Mass Consumption” stages. Belgium’s GDP estimate for 2015 is $494.6 billion, with a per capita estimate of $44,100. As previously stated, the “Drive to Maturity” stage is characterized by economic diversification, innovation, and an increase in social and economic prosperity as compared to stage three societies. In both Belgium and South Africa, their economic sectors are considered well-developed and diversified. Both GDP growth rates are similar at 1.3% and 1.4%, respectively, and the GDP investment in fixed capital is around 23% in both countries, following the trend in continual investments typifying stage four. The greatest differences between the two countries lies in their respective rates of social prosperity, and dominance of the service sector. With an unemployment rate of 25.9% and 35.9% of the population living below the poverty line, South Africa’s social prosperity is markedly different from Belgium’s. In comparison, Belgium’s 8.6% unemployment rate and 15.1% of population below the poverty line corresponds to the social prosperity defined in stage 5. Additionally, the service sector comprises 77% of Belgium’s GDP, overwhelmingly dominating industry and agriculture, as Rostow describes. South Africa, possibly due to the abundance of natural resources, has a greater reliance on their agricultural and industrial sectors, with 2.4% and 30.3% of the GDP produced, respectively. And while Belgium imports -80% worth of their GDP in goods and services, they export 82% of the GDP. Comparing that to South Africa’s -32.7% import and 31.5% export rates, Belgium relies greater on imports but is able to yield a greater absolute percentage of exports. The ultimate differences between the two countries as defined by Rostow’s model of development can be summarized as differences in economic and social maturity. South Africa, a “younger” society, is also still establishing economic stability and dealing with the unique social legacies of apartheid and colonialism. Belgium has a more established commercial and industrial base that has allowed for a stronger consumer-orientation and greater social prosperity.