Local economic development policies have surged in Brazil over the past decade—a major shift in this regionally diverse country of 27 states, over 5000 municipalities, and the largest economy in Latin America. We review the stylized facts, expected patterns and policy recommendations from the foundational studies in regional and urban economics. We then provide a summary of a more recent stream of scholarship focused on local economic development (LED) studies in developed and developing countries that have surged in the last 20 years. Based on this review, we then systemize the findings emerging from studies focused on analyzing local economic development policies in Brazil recognizing the distinctive contributions emerging from both the empirical and the case studies literatures. We identify key lessons for (and from) the Brazilian experience and conclude that Brazil and Latin American countries need a new generation of studies that undertake more rigorous evaluations of these policy experiments. Finally, we recommend steps to advance such research.
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