The literature shows a clear correlation between sound constitutional environments and human flourishing. However, the path to adoption of sound constitutions is much less clear. This paper turns to the history of constitutional transfer to propose an alternative to taxonomies offered in the literature, which typically classify constitutions either by governmental structure (presidential v. parliamentary, or centralized v. federalist) or by source of influence (e.g. US 1787, Spain 1812, France 1958). These classifications are found wanting; instead, this paper proposes a new taxonomy based on the origin of the constitutional ideas and adoption. Formal constitutional parchment must match informal constitutional culture, so a constitution’s likelihood of success is greatest when the ideas are indigenous; the source of adoption is ultimately secondary. The paper closes with four case studies of constitutional transfer and adoption.
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