Divided into two parts, this highly informative work first contributes to the debate on democracy's preconditions, then explores the historical development of state structures. Its primary conclusion is that democracy is not the product of social and economic forces, yet, to a greater extent, it is the consequence of prevailing institutional conditions, i.e. the nature of the state. In the second section, Hadenius maintains that the differing modes of state have displayed a variable capacity for governance and economic development. Thus, the evolution of state structures has consequences across broad areas of political and social life.