RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil's 13 largest metropolitan areas are the country's economic engines, concentrating more than half of national GDP and driving their states forward, according to a report released Friday by the Brookings Institution.
The study by the Washington think-tank's Metropolitan Policy Program was issued during an international conference hosted in Brazil's largest city, Sao Paulo, Brazil, by the Global Cities Initiative, a joint Brookings Institution-JPMorgan Chase project aimed at getting metropolitan leadership engage more broadly with global markets.
In its "Metro Brazil" report, Brookings analyzed for the first time economic and demographic data pertaining to Brazil's most significant cities. It shows that metropolitan areas not only play an essential role in the country's financial landscape, but display dynamic economies that continue to grow despite slowed growth at the national level.
The numbers underscore the healthy state of these metro areas. With 33 percent of the population, they account for 56 percent of national GDP, concentrate half of the country's college graduates, and are responsible for at least 45 percent of their states' GDP. Globally, these metro areas are responsible for one-third of Brazil's exports.
The report's lead author, Jill Wilson, hopes the information will draw attention to the key role metropolitan areas play not only within Brazil and globally as well, and hopefully provide the basis for policies capitalizing on their potential.
"Brazilian metropolitan leaders – not just mayors, but regional leaders, business and education leaders – should understand the unique assets of their regions and how they fit into local, state and international picture," said Wilson. That could mean pushing for a more prominent role for cities and metro areas in the political sphere, she said.
Wilson said growth in Brazil generally has shifted to smaller metro areas, with the exception of Rio de Janeiro. The country's second largest metro, Rio has seen substantial investment stemming from recent offshore oil discoveries and preparations to host the opening of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.