Historical development patterns are uneven. There are windows of opportunity for countries on the periphery to catch-up, others may lose momentum. Using the Maddison database accelerating and decelerating periods can be found. This paper compares the development trends of six East-Central European (ECE) countries with the average of highly developed countries, and three successfully catching-up countries. A methodological novelty of the paper is the usage of enveloping curves. The approach is based of Ferenc Jánossy’s seminal work on the long-term development trendlines of countries, which are interpreted as historic growth potential indicators. ECE growth performance is also compared to their own long-term potentials. The development pattern is interpreted in the mainstream political concepts of the various historical epochs. The analysis concludes that ECE region’s growth performance is more successful in state-permeated management of slack periods. Liberal epochs’ accelerated growth of highly developed countries could not be followed.
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