This paper examines the constitutional morphogenesis of New England and New Zealand to determine the effects on their respective economic development—specifically in terms of economic complexity. New England had revolted against a dominion that limited the local autonomy of its colonies; alternatively, almost 200 years later, New Zealand abolished a quasi-federal provincial system in favour of a unitary state. Constitutional economics, through the works of its founding father, James Buchanan, is employed to explain the effects of these constitutional choices. The paper argues that empowering local government is the key to economic prosperity in a globalising world, where the role of the nation-state is increasingly marginalised. Nourishing local autonomy is important for constitutional aspirations.
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