As I discussed earlier, the idea of a "take-off" has received renewed interest, particularly with the idea of a "poverty trap". That is, there is a kind of balance of forces, or "equilibrium", in the economy which traps resources into inefficient uses. This inefficiency leads to underinvestment in industries with a high growth potential. There is however a better equilibrium, in which investment in these industries materializes - but there is no natural tendency for the poor economy to take-off from a lower to a higher equilibrium. Hence the need for a Big Push.
The "take-off", interpreted as a Big Push, is not well supported by the evidence, according to this paper by William Easterly of New York University. Virtually all the countries that are wealthy today, got there by gradual increments, rather than by a take-off. The exception? Japan, during the Meiji era. Among currently developing economies, the "take-off" is also very elusive. A major problem is actually defining a take-off - the term itself is difficult to pin down, against the reality of most developing economies, for whom the boom-bust cycle appears to be the norm. (So the Philippines is not so unique after all!) On the balance, only the East Asian high performing economies exhibit a take-off, and that of course only recently.
Because the Philippines is in this region, the East Asian high performing economies becomes the inevitable benchmark by which we gauge our own "take-off". What was the secret recipe of the high performing East Asian economies? Is this recipe replicable in countries like the Philippines?