Do the countries which grow share the same features as those which decline? How can some countries achieve such long-term sustainable growth while others fail so badly? This paper builds on the emerging literature on growth asymmetries by examining movement across income categories in the World Development Reports over a significant period of time. The results confirm the existence of asymmetries and find that the factors which are correlated with movement upwards or downwards are markedly different. Evidence is presented which suggests that growth episodes share some common features while economic collapse may occur for a broader range of reasons.