Does local economic development really work? Assessing LED across Mexican municipalities
Local economic development (LED) strategies are increasingly being recommended as an alternative or a complement to traditional development strategies. However, beyond a limited number of areas where ‘best practices’ have been identified, there has been little systematic monitoring of whether LED really works. This paper uses a purpose-built database of 898 municipalities in Mexico in order to assess, using a quantitative approach, whether the implementation of seven different components of LED – development plan, sustainability, entrepreneurship, capacity building, participation mechanisms, development links, and autonomy – has delivered greater human development across Mexican local governments. The results of the analysis indicate that municipalities engaging in LED during the last two decades have witnessed significant improvements in human development, relative to those which have overlooked LED strategies. The increase in human development has been greatest for those local authorities which have pursued capacity building, the establishment of additional development links and which have drafted a development plan. Greater independence from federal or state initiative has, by contrast, been detrimental for changes in human development at the local level.
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