Why has the world become increasingly unequal? ‘The rise of the West’ looks at how geography, institutions, culture, technological change, globalization, and economic policy have played a role. Widespread literacy and numeracy have been necessary conditions for economic success since the 17th century. These mental skills help trade to flourish and science and technology to develop. European success in the first global economy had major implications for economic development: growth in urbanization and rural manufacturing increased the demand for labour and led to tight labour markets and high wages; growing cities and a high-wage economy resulted in agricultural revolutions in England and the Netherlands; and growing urban demand led to energy revolutions.