Profile Major Works Resources

Paul N. Rosenstein-Rodan, 1902-1985

Portrait of P. Rosenstein-Rodan

The Polish-born Paul Narcyz Rosenstein-Rodan was trained in the Austrian tradition at Vienna.  Rosenstein-Rodan's early contributions to economics were in pure economic theory - on marginal utility, complementarity, hierarchical structures of wants and the ever-Austrian issue of time.   From 1930, Rosenstein-Rodan was (along with Morgenstern) the editor of the Austrian journal Zeitschrift für Nationalökonomie.

Rosenstein-Rodan emigrated to Britain in 1930.  He taught at UCL from 1934 and then at the L.S.E. until 1947. 

Rosenstein-Rodan's famous 1943 article was the progenitor of the "Big Push" theory of economic development.  His thesis, based on Young's famous 1928 paper, argued that given increasing returns to scale, government-induced industrialization was possible to break the poverty traps in underdeveloped countries.   Lack of domestic markets marred the incentive for a sector to mechanize by itself, and consequently there was a low likelihood that industrialization could be pulled by a single leading sector.  But coordinated investment in various sectors were undertaken simultaneously, they would generate markets for each other.  These demand spillovers would produce increasing returns and launch into self-sustained growth.  Rosenstein- Rodan's later work exhibited his continued concern with the issues of industrialization and development.

Rosenstein-Rodan  moved to the World Bank in 1947.  From 1952 to 1968, Rosenstein-Rodan was a professor at M.I.T.. He subsequently moved to Texas in 1968 and then Boston University in 1972.



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Major Works of Paul N. Rosenstein-Rodan

  • "Grenznutzen", 1927, Handworterbuch der Staatswissenschaften
  • "Das Zeitmoment in der Mathematischen Theorie des Wirschaftlichen Gleichgewichtes", 1929, ZfN
  • "La Complementarita: Prima delle tre etappe del pogresso della Teoria Economica Pura", 1933, La Riforma Sociale
  • "La funzione del tempo nella Teoria Economica Pura", 1933, Riforma Sociale
  • "The Role of Time in Economic Theory", 1934, Economica
  • "A Coordination of the Theories of Money and Price", 1936, Economica
  • "Problems of Industrialization of Eastern and South- Eastern Europe", 1943, EJ [pdf]
  • "The International Development of Economically Backward Areas", 1944, International Affairs
  • Disguised Underemployment and Under-employment in Agriculture, 1956.
  • "International Aid for Underdeveloped Countries", 1961, REStat [draft mit]
  • "Notes on the Theory of the Big Push", 1961, in Ellis, editor, Economic Development for Latin America
  • "Criteria for Evaluation of National Development Effort", 1969, J Development Planning
  • The New International Economic Order, 1981.
  • "Natura non Facit Saltum: Analysis of Disequilibrium Growth Process", 1984, in G.M. Meier and D. Seers, ed, Pioneers of Development [ch.8, full]




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Resources on Paul Rosenstein-Rodan

  • Rosenstein-Rodan obituary at NY Times 1985
  • Guide to Rosenstein-Rodan papers at LSE
  • "Industrialization and the Big Push", by K.M. Murphy, A. Shleifer and R.W. Vishny, 1989, JPE [pdf]
  • "Beyond Rosenstein-Rodan: The Modern Theory of Coordination Problems in Development" by Karla Hoth, 2001 [pdf]
  • "The Big Push: what does it mean and does it make sense for Ethiopia?" teaching notes by Michael Walton [pdf]
  • Big Push Theory at [online]
  • Rosenstein-Rodan entry at
  • Wikipedia


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