Medieval Latin devolution-, devolutio, from Latin devolvere. Devolve meaning to roll down.
- 1: transference (as of rights, powers, property, or responsibility) to another; especially : the surrender of powers to local authorities by a central government
- 2: retrograde evolution : degeneration
Devolution is the statutory granting of powers from the central government of a sovereign state to government at a subnational level, such as a regional, local, or state level. It differs from federalism in that the powers devolved may be temporary and ultimately reside in central government, thus the state remains, de jure, unitary.
Legislation creating devolved parliaments or assemblies can be repealed by central government in the same way as any statute. Federal systems, or federacies, differ in that state or provincial government is guaranteed in the constitution. Australia, Canada, India and the United States have federal systems, and have constitutions (as do some of their constituent states or provinces). They also have Territories, with less power and authority than a state or province.
The devolution can be mainly financial, e.g. giving areas a budget which was formerly administered by central government. However, the power to make legislation relevant to the area may also be granted.