This paper asks whether it is possible to identify, using purely statistical criteria on widely available quantitative data, a set of developing countries that can be classified as poor performers. We restrict attention to two performance indicators, economic growth and infant mortality, over two periods 1980-90 and 1990-2000, and use four different statistical criteria to identify poor performance. The main finding is that very few countries consistently appear as poor performers: those that perform poorly on one indicator, or in one period, typically do not perform poorly on/in the other. A similar result is obtained in the context of identifying, on statistical grounds, good performers. The research cautions against labelling countries as poor performers without careful qualification.