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Special Event

Millennium 2000: Population

Aired January 2, 2000 - 9:00 a.m. ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: All is quiet on the Y2K front, almost too quiet. Most of the world has yet to be bugged by any major millennium problem. But could disaster just be delayed?

JIM CLANCY, CNN ANCHOR: Israel and Syria prepare to meet in the United States, a landmark meeting with hopes of peace in the coming century.

KAGAN: And it's a small world after all and getting smaller all the time, how the population explosion is taking away the elbow room in the global village.

And welcome to our special continuous coverage of this new millennium. I'm Daryn Kagan.

CLANCY: And I'm Jim Clancy. We're going to devote much of the next hour to a comprehensive look at the world's population explosion.

KAGAN: We'll get to that in just a second, but first we want to go ahead and check some news headlines as we are here on the second day of the new millennium.

Here in the eastern part of the United States, we are now 33 hours into the new millennium and there are no major Y2K complications reported, not only in the U.S., but in at least 170 nations, other nations as well. But there is potential for problems when people go back to work tomorrow.

We get more now from Kathleen Koch in Washington. Kathleen, good morning in Washington.


The concern is that only tomorrow will the world's computers all be up and running and dealing with the demands of a normal business day and if there is a latent Y2K glitch it could show up then. So officials here at the Y2K Information Coordination Center will be busy in the wee hours of the morning watching the rest of the world go back to work and keeping a close eye on countries like Russia that got a late start in preparing for Y2K.


JOHN KOSKINEN, PRESIDENT'S COUNCIL ON Y2K: And at this juncture they have not seen any apparent problem. Again, I would stress it doesn't mean there aren't some out there that we don't see or the public doesn't see. But thus far they have proceeded and succeeded much more successfully than one might have predicted at this time. But I think we and they both understand, back to this kind of constant refrain of ours, that they're going to have to be operating those systems now over time and in cases where they may not have done enough of the work the problem may not be apparent today but it may become apparent over the next several days.


KOCH: And it's not clear how forthcoming countries worldwide are being with reporting Y2K problems. Even the U.S. Pentagon delayed reporting for seven hours that a critical spy satellite system had gone down at seven o'clock Greenwich Mean Time on December 31st. So when officials say everything is Y2OK sometimes you have to take that with a grain of salt.

Still, problems across-the-board do remain minor and if they stay that way officials here say that staffing may be scaled back as soon as tomorrow.

Reporting live at the Y2K Information Coordination Center, I'm Kathleen Koch. Back to you.

CLANCY: Well, like the U.S., Japan is certainly a high tech country and Japan's computer experts have also been watching for any Y2K problems. Watching them, CNN Tokyo Bureau Chief Marina Kamimura.


MARINA KAMIMURA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Of all the countries in Asia, Japan would seem to be the perfect breeding ground for the Y2K bug, especially when you consider how automated every day life is here. But despite minor assorted glitches across the country, including some in the nuclear power industry, the causes of which are still being investigated, the dreaded bug seems to have left Japan pretty much alone.

Trains are running as scheduled. ATMs continue to dole out cash.

KAORU ISHIKAWA, U.N. ASIAN Y2K COORDINATOR: Well, there's an old proverb in Japan saying that if you are prepared, you have nothing to worry about. I think that is how we are feeling at this moment.

KAMIMURA: Elsewhere in Asia, a similar story. Toasts abounded as flights took off without a hitch in China and traffic lights operated as usual in cities like Auckland, New Zealand.

UNIDENTIFIED TECHNICIAN: Twelve o'clock came and went and the lights didn't go out and the water's still running and the technical staff are looking very relaxed.

KAMIMURA: Even in the Russian Far East, so far no reported problems with Russia's aging nuclear power plants. International cooperation is scaling new heights as a result of the Y2K watch. That's not to say normal routines were not broken. Across Japan, staff from 499 banks and brokerages worked through Sunday, simulating a regular work day with the Bank of Japan and various stock exchanges. Other than some sporadic computer problems in a few securities houses, smooth sailing is reported so far.

(on camera): With the roll over itself largely headache free, many Y2K watchers are even starting to reduce standby staff. The Japanese government says it's cut personnel at its Y2K crisis center from 50 to 30. Still, few Asian businesses will rest easy until they see what happens when the holiday ends and the work week begins.

Marina Kamimura, CNN, Tokyo.


KAGAN: And here's what you might call a heartwarming Y2K story. Teachers often complain that their students don't listen to them. But Dick Jordan's students not only listened, they remembered. You see starting in 1964 Jordan told his American history classes to meet him at high noon on New Year's Day in the year 2000. A hundred former students showed up yesterday for a reunion with the now retired Denver high school teacher. One other thing, Jordan had told each of his students to bring him a dollar because he thought he'd be poor. Well, they all did and the money is going to charity. And the day proved that Jordan was a very rich man, indeed.

CLANCY: Pointing fingers about a crisis that has ended but is hardly forgotten, the latest political fallout on the hijackers who got away. That's coming up here on CNN.


ANNOUNCER: In 1095, the Christian powers in Europe launched a crusade to convert the world to its beliefs. This would be the first of many such crusades during the next 200 years. In an effort to seize Jerusalem from the Muslims, Christian soldiers and ruthless mercenaries swarmed through the Middle East. Thousands were slaughtered. In 1099, the Christians won the holy city only to lose it in 1244 when the Muslims regained control.

Although a violent period in history, the crusades had some unexpected results. The mixing of cultures encouraged trade, introducing the West to exotic specialties such as sugar, cotton and watermelon and the period inspired a wealth of art and literature.

CLANCY: Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Barak is making his way to the United States at this hour to talk peace with Syria, a peace he says comes with a very painful price.

CNN's Jerrold Kessel joins us now from Jerusalem with a preview of the second series of high level talks between these two nations. Jerrold?

JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, yes, Mr. Barak is now winging his way to Washington en route to those talks with the Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk a-Shara to pick up possibly where they left off a few weeks ago when they had that landmark meeting in Washington. And before his departure from Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv Mr. Barak spoke effusively of his hopes. Referring to the millennium moment he said we should not have to wait 1,000 years, not 100 years, nor 10 years, but hopefully with Israel's neighbors, he said, he would be trying to forge a peace this very year.

And he spoke from a airport tarmac in a broadcast over Israel Radio that statement, referring to the Arab leaders who had landed at that very spot to seal at historic peace agreements with Israel, Mr. Barak stating firmly that he would not sign any deal which did not enhance Israel's security and bring it greater prosperity.


CLANCY: Jerrold, at the same time that he is holding these talks it is absolutely necessary that he has the full support of the government. These talks aren't only painful, any compromise is also going to be controversial. How much political problems does he have at home?

KESSEL: He does have problems and it was noteworthy this morning that he spoke to the Israeli people on, in an interview on Israel Radio and said that any deal with Syria would require a very painful price. He said it would be very difficult and that was the message clearly when he met this morning with members of his government in the regular Sunday morning cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

Mr. Barak, it's no secret, in, around that cabinet table in Jerusalem there are a number of ministers who do not believe that when he speaks of a very painful price that Israel should pay that kind of painful price which they construe to mean giving up the whole of the Golan Heights or very nearly the whole of the Golan Heights. And also the message that Mr. Barak perhaps was having to handle when he met later in the morning with members of a pro-Golan political lobby who also expressed their concern.

But he believes that that, to some degree, is jumping the gun because while we don't know precisely what will be the agenda of these talks in Shepherdstown in West Virginia, Mr. Barak, from his point of view, was seeking to focus primarily on normalization, peacemaking, security arrangements and then only to take up the territorial issue with the Syrians.


CLANCY: All right, CNN's Jerrold Kessel reporting to us there live from Jerusalem. Daryn?

KAGAN: Now to Russia where military forces are once again pounding Grozny today, as a major offensive to take the Chechen capital enters a second week. Despite the heavy air and artillery bombardment, CNN's Steve Harrigan reports from outside Grozny that Russian forces do not expect to take the city as soon as previously believed.

Acting Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a pep talk to troops on the front lines. Many of the Russian soldiers were not aware that Mr. Putin had replaced Boris Yeltsin on Friday. When some heard Yeltsin had resigned they applauded.

CLANCY: It has been two days since the Indian Airlines hostage crisis came to an end but it's still unclear just where the plane's hijackers have found refuge. Indian officials say Pakistan. Pakistani officials deny that claim.

CNN's Maria Ressa is in New Delhi and joins us now on the telephone. Maria?

MARIA RESSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, there's certainly still a mood of celebration here in New Delhi. The stories of the passengers are just coming out now. They talk about their eight day ordeal. Newspapers are full of their accounts from the pilot who was a go between in negotiations between the hijackers and the Indian government to the wife of the one casualty, 25-year-old Rippan Katyal. They were newlyweds during the entire eight days. Kaytal's wife thought he was just being held in another part of the plane. Relatives said she had to be sedated after she found out, when they told her when she got home.

Still, the criticism started even in the midst of the celebrations that releasing three Islamic militants is a blow to the global fight against terrorism. Many here, analysts here said they expect a backlash against the government of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's BJP Party, that it had for decades portrayed itself as a hard-liner against terrorism, criticizing past governments for giving in to terrorism, which is, in fact, exactly what they had done now.

India says it had no choice, pointing out that the government had bargained down from the original demand of the hijackers to release 36 militants to just three.


CLANCY: All right, CNN's Maria Ressa reporting to us the latest from the Indian side. But let's get another view. Daryn?

KAGAN: Many people believing that those hostage takers would have crossed over into Pakistan. But we understand it would be hard to tell even if they have.

Our Peter Bergen is now in Islamabad with the latest. He joins us on the phone. Peter?

PETER BERGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Daryn, the Pakistani government says it's on a high alert on its borders with Afghanistan, on the search for the hijackers and the released Kashmiri militants. Of course, no one really knows what the hijackers exactly look like since they were masked throughout the hijacking. Last night I crossed the border from Candlehar, Afghanistan (ph) to Quatar (ph), Pakistan, which is the nearest crossing point the hijackers could have taken.

My documents were closely examined on three separate occasions by Pakistani police and immigration officials. So the security system is on a high alert. But the problem is the borders between Pakistan are long and porous, almost 1,000 miles long. There are isolated mountain passes the militants could have easily crossed. Right now the hijackers, the militants appear to have vanished.


KAGAN: Peter Bergen bringing us the latest from Pakistan. Thank you, Peter.


ANNOUNCER: Who invented the first general purpose electronic computer? American engineer John Presper Eckert, Jr. (ph) and his professor, John W. Mockley (ph) are credited with inventing the first general purpose electronic computer. The electronic numerical integrator and computer, EMIAC, was unveiled in 1946 and used by the U.S. Army for military calculations. This 30 ton machine filled with 19,000 vacuum tubes, 6,000 switches and blinking lights is the prototype for computers in use today.

CLANCY: Life for one Texas man taking an interesting path in the new century. He's changed his name and now he's changing his lifestyle to become a full time resident of cyberspace.

Jeff Krille (ph) of our affiliate KDFW downloads the story of the guy.


JEFF KRILLE, KDFW CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): He said good-bye to family and friends with a dozen cameras looking on. Then he climbed aboard a UPS truck which would deliver him to his townhouse. For the next year, delivery trucks like this one will be a very important part of his life because he will literally be depending on them to survive.

UNIDENTIFIED CAMERAMAN: Live from the pound in Dallas, Texas, one man, one house, one year and 20 cameras.

KRILLE: For the next 12 months, his every move will be on the World Wide Web.

UNIDENTIFIED CAMERAMAN: All right, he's on the move. Let's move to the kitchen.

UNIDENTIFIED CAMERAMAN: Welcome to the future of e-commerce.



UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: All you have to do is log on and you'll see everything.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Oh, Steve, the life saver.

KRILLE: Within an hour of moving into the empty townhouse, UPS showed up with his computer.

UNIDENTIFIED UPS EMPLOYEE: Just sign your name right across this and initialize it.

KRILLE: And with that, he should be able to order everything else he needs.

DOT.COM GUY: I'll need to order dishes and glasses as well as I'll need to order food to fill this empty pantry, some mops, brooms, other cleaning supplies. I'll also need to fill the refrigerator and freezer with frozen foods, ice cream, milk, juice, all your basics.

KRILLE: Now after a few months of this self-imposed confinement, life could get a little mundane.


KRILLE: But I wouldn't worry too much about guy in the short-term.

UNIDENTIFIED CAMERAMAN: Welcome to the future of e-commerce.

KRILLE: He's got a lot of cyberspace shopping to keep him busy.



KAGAN: He also might want to go online and order a life, some people might say. That story coming from Jeff Krille from our affiliate in Dallas, Texas, KDFW.

Well, didn't make the list but millennium did. We're talking about the annual list of misused, over used and generally useless words and phrases. The list is complied by Lake Superior State University, which takes submissions from people all around the world. Besides millennium, people are sick of hearing 24-7, short for 24 hours, seven days a week, thinking outside the box, road rage and e-anything, such as e-mail or e-trade. And wondering why Y2K didn't make the list? That's like so last year. It was on the list last year.

CLANCY: You know, speaking of words, the editor of Miriam Webster dictionary said that there is one word that dominated the end of the 20th century.

KAGAN: And that word is?

CLANCY: Internet.

KAGAN: Internet. Understandable.

CLANCY: It spawned all kinds of new words. Web had a new meaning. Surf has a new meaning. And we can see ...

KAGAN: Browse. Lots of different, yeah. CLANCY: That's it.

KAGAN: Old words, new meanings.

CLANCY: Dominating the end of the 20th century, the Internet.

Also dominating, six billion and counting, world population growing at an unbelievable pace. Coming up on our special Millennium 2000 coverage, what that means for you, your children and your future.


KAGAN: Here's a check of our top stories this hour. The transition to the year 2000 is a smooth one so far. In fact, it's so quiet at the national Y2K center in Washington at least one employee could put his feet up and read the paper. The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency sent home about half of its staff monitoring potential Y2K problems across the nation this weekend. Besides the U.S., at least 170 countries report normal operations. But there is some concern that glitches may crop up when the work week begins tomorrow and large computer systems are powered up.

CLANCY: Israel's prime minister, Ehud Barak, is on his way to the United States for the second round of high level peace talks with Syria. Before leaving Israel, Mr. Barak said peace has a very painful price but he maintains Israel's security will not be sacrificed at these talks. The meetings are scheduled to begin tomorrow in West Virginia. One of the main issues is the future of the Golan Heights.

Well, coping with a world full of people, it's a big planet, but it is getting smaller all the time. We're going to explain next on Millennium 2000. Stay with us.


ANNOUNCER: There are too many babies here so give away the girls. There aren't enough there, so tax the bachelors. A world full of population problems and the big clock is ticking.

CLANCY: When the world welcomed the arrival of the year 1000 it was a much smaller party. Despite two devastating global wars, famine and plagues, we've seen an explosion in population growth during this 20th century. And according to CNN's Senior United Nations Correspondent Richard Roth, our planet is becoming more and more crowded.


RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): A special delivery, baby number six billion emerges just months before the dawn of century 21. The infant is welcomed to a brave new crowded world. The planet is teeming. In just the 20th century alone the population of the world quadrupled.

JOSEPH CHAMIE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, U.N. POPULATION DIVISION: What we've seen most recently is we've gone through the most remarkable century demographically ever and we're continuing that process.

ROTH: In 1900, the world population was 1.65 billion. In the year 2000, it will be just over six billion. Another 100 years from now, nearly nine and a half billion. But then look what happens. According to projections, the dramatic rate of growth starts leveling off. In the United Nations' furthest estimate, by the year 2150 the population will edge upwards to only 9.75 billion.

There are indications the long feared population bomb may not go off.

CHAMIE: We've had also a decline in fertility, people deciding to have smaller families and having the means, contraception, to do so now. So not only can you choose your number but you can space them when you want them.

ROTH: Women are having fewer babies, especially in developed or industrialized countries. Birth rates in Europe have either gone flat or declined. A major factor in the drop off, the changing roles for women. The ladies of Spain may be waving political flags but they've also waved good-bye to large families. Experts now say Spain has the world's lowest birth rate.


SADIK: More and more women choose not to have children because they feel that, this is very much the case in Japan, for example, they say that all child bearing and responsibility for the child solely rests on the mother and that it's too great a responsibility so they really cannot afford or they do not wish to be burdened with more than one child.

ROTH: In poorer countries, baby booms once raged. Birth rates have been cut in half since 1969. But it's in these developing nations where the fastest growth rates still occur. Sub-Saharan Africa, where the average woman has 5.5 children, India, which may soon surpass China as the world's most populous country. Some of the reasons for larger families, according to population experts, women without political and social rights, poor education and access to jobs and, of course, limited access to family planning advice.

It's a vicious circle. High population keeps the poverty cycle going. And with more people there are fewer resources to invest in work, education and health care.

SADIK: Surveys all around the world show that women, in fact, want to have fewer children than they actually have and when you ask them why they don't have the number they actually want, especially if they're generally very poor, their husbands won't allow them to because they think that they're, the wife's role is to have children.

ROTH: It's easy to think the century's soaring population is due to family decisions or social influences. But it's not just that more babies are being born. It's that people aren't dying as fast.

NICHOLAS EBERSTADT, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: There was a huge population explosion not driven by the fact that people suddenly started breeding like rabbits, it occurred because people finally stopped dying like flies. The world's life span, human life span more than doubled over the course of the 20th century.

ROTH: Some call it a health explosion and it's hard to resist kicking up one's heels at the increasing longevity of the world. In 1900, seven and a half percent of the population was over 60 years old. Today, it's 10 percent. But in another 100 years senior citizens will make up more than a quarter of the people of the world.

CHAMIE: You're going to have very soon, 50 to 60 years, a change in the world structure where the number of people above 60 will for the first time in human history be greater than the number of children below 15.

ROTH: There will be considerable social impact from this disparity. We'll have to rethink retirement.

EBERSTADT: Current workers pay for current retirees. That's a great way of financing things when you've got a lot of workers and few retirees. It's not such a great way of doing it when you've got a lot of older people and not so many workers.

ROTH: In developing nations, aging populations will present other challenges.

EBERSTADT: There are going to be some countries in the Third World, maybe more than a few, that are going to become old before they become rich in the coming century.

ROTH: But not everyone will see old age. One reason, a plague of the 20th century, AIDS, already the leading cause of death in sub- Saharan Africa and leaving millions of orphans in its wake.

ANDREW JACKSON OKURUT, AIDS ORPHAN/UGANDA: I live without that love of my parents which most children are fond of. I feel very lonely most of the time as I miss my mother and father. I am uncertain about continuation in school and my future.

PETER PIOT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UNAIDS: Yeah, the impact of AIDS is really through a ripple effect on every walk of society from orphans, the economy, skilled labor is dying off and that is going to undermine the very fabric of society.

ROTH: And while coping with the devastation of AIDS, societies in hardest hit Africa will also have to support growing numbers. The population in Africa is expected to quadruple in the next 150 years and this will be a factor in the major redistribution of populations around the globe. Asia and North America will be relatively stable. But other continents will see swings.

In the year 1900, nearly a quarter of the world's population lived in Europe and about eight percent in Africa. One hundred years later, that number in Europe has roughly halved to 12 percent with Africa increasing to nearly 13 percent. In another hundred years, Europe is expected to shrink to just under five and a half percent while Africa may double again to nearly 24 percent of the world population.

But it is people, not percentages, that inhabit the planet. It is birth and death and the dynamics of how we live that reshape where we live. War moves people to escape danger and find a better place to live. Economics moves people.

(on camera): Over time, millions have been drawn to cities or mega cities such as New York. There were just two mega cities in the year 1960. Today, 17. By the year 2015, the projections call for more than 26.

CHAMIE: The balance between the urbanites and the rural dwellers will change and that has enormous impact politically and also environmentally and socially. People will be living in cities and the mentality of urban dwellers is very different than people living in rural areas and on the farms.

ROTH: And that migration shift means potential trouble for the way we live. The expanding cities mean more pollution and a lack of clean drinking water, a problem for many now and predicted to become more severe. The mega cities will demand more resources. Already the wealthiest fifth of the world's population now consumes more than 66 times the materials and resources of the poorest fifth.

PAUL EHRLICH, AUTHOR/POPULATION ANALYST: Consumption is a huge factor in the population problem. It isn't just the numbers of people you have, it's what they do.

ROTH: What Stanford University Professor Paul Ehrlich did in 1968 was ring the first alarm of population growth with his book, "The Population Bomb." So far, his worst fears have not come true. Now, Ehrlich and others favor a new policy approach, focusing less on population controls and more on reproductive choices.

EHRLICH: Certainly our drive is not just to stop population growth but to start a slow decline towards a sustainable number.

SADIK: I don't think they will go back to wherever the situation where there'll be an unlimited number of children because, you know, you've got unlimited number of children when that was the only role for the woman.

CHAMIE: It's not like a football game where you have the game and it's over, one won and one lost and you go home and do something else. This is an ongoing process that you have to be concerned about and you have to be preparing policies and programs that can address the issues that emerge.

ROTH: By the time the 22nd century arrives, the global population is expected to be 10 1/4 billion. So the world will continue to grow, just not as fast as during the fertile 20th century.

Richard Roth, CNN, United Nations.

(END VIDEOTAPE) KAGAN: After a break, we'll look at two nations where populations have taken off. How are the leaders of China and India handling the needs of so many people?


KAGAN: And now returning to our Millennium 2000 theme this hour, world population. India is on track this century to overtake China in population. As you can imagine, nations with huge populations also have some huge problems.

CNN's Jane Arraf looks at what India is doing to try to slow its fast paced growth.


JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): The hands rocking this cradle are part of India's slow change to smaller families, too slow to halt the population boom. Gangaram Pandir (ph) had four children, three of them sons. But his grandson will grow up with only one sibling. If the family is bigger there's less land to go around, he says. That's why people now like smaller families.

In villages like Dugana, where family planning programs operate, that's what most people say. But that's still not what most of them practice. The proof is in the numbers, almost 30 children born in India every minute. About half of them are born into poverty in a country where hundreds of millions already go without schools or health care.

In some states, India's birth rate has dropped to that of the West, about two children per family. But that's not the case everywhere.

MICHAEL VLASSOFF, U.N. POPULATION FUND: It's sort of the upper part of the north in what they call the Hindi belt where things aren't going so well and people are still having fairly large families.

ARRAF: Dugana, at the far edge of the northern state of Hamagal Pradesh (ph) is in one of those areas. The United Nations is spending about $100 million over five years working with local governments to help slow India's growth rate.

There's a lot of change now, says Moon Sporanin (ph), a village woman who counsels couples on family planning. If someone has two or three kids then they think about having an operation. A operation means being sterilized. It's still virtually the only form of contraception used in the villages. The villager who's supposed to distribute condoms says he's never received any. And getting any kind of prescription, even birth control, requires walking more than a mile to this clinic.

(on camera): Even sterilization, though, isn't having the impact it should. Hamila Davi (ph) is thinking of being sterilized but not until she's had a seventh child. First I had five girls. Now I want another boy, she says. The message that smaller families are better seems to be filtering through slowly. But in poor areas for a lot of families, a lot of children, specifically boys, still means more security.

(voice-over): Most of India's still bound by tradition and tradition says girls are a liability. Benitra Davi's (ph) family has been playing the drums at the village temple for generations. Benitra was married at 15. She finally had a son but she had five daughters first. You need a boy to look after the mother and father when they're old, she says. In Dugana, as in the rest of the country, things are beginning to change. But India still faces problems that will go along with being the world's most populous nation.

Jane Arraf, CNN, Dugana, northern India.


CLANCY: China has managed to reduce the number of children born within its borders each year. The country's one child policy has been, if anything, controversial. But as CNN's Rebecca MacKinnon reports, the nation's leaders point to the record and say it works.


REBECCA MACKINNON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): It's Saturday dance class at the Beijing Children's Palace. Twelve-year- old Li Ang has no plans to go professional but his parents think dance lessons will give him poise and confidence. We didn't have these opportunities when I was growing up, says his mother. Now we're in a position to bring him up well. We can't let him lose out.

Neither Li Ang nor any of his classmates have brothers or sisters. They're products of a one child per family policy strictly enforced in China's cities for 20 years. Many adults call them little emperors.

YANG XIA, CHILD PSYCHOLOGIST: Everyone will be an only child and they'll all be selfish.

MACKINNON: Some believe this new me generation could chafe at China's authoritarian government.

XIA: When families had a lot of children kids were told to obey authority and not to ask why. Only children are likely to be more skeptical about authority and less likely to believe propaganda.

MACKINNON: Only children were almost non-existent when these folks were young. Back then, having lots of sons and grandsons was the only form of old age insurance. Today's one child policy and the rise of these little emperors in China's cities would not have been possible without pensions, insurance and retirement homes.

Seventy-eight-year-old Zangfo Chin (ph) says she's not dependent on her grown children because she has a pension and plans to move into a retirement home when she gets too old to move around. But in the countryside it's a different story. Insurance or pensions are rare and people still rely on sons to support them in their old age. So in most places, peasant farmers are allowed to have a second child if the first one is a girl who, according to Chinese custom, will join her husband's family when she marries.

GU BAOCHANG, POPULATION COUNCIL: In the past with the high birth rates if you had a daughter as the first born you could keep having children until you had a son. But now the country does not want you to have more children. Those who have a daughter as the first born and second born regret it. They want to guarantee that one of those children is a boy.

MACKINNON: The result is that China's orphanages are filled with baby girls, many abandoned by parents who failed to have a son and want to try again. Another deadly consequence, higher infant mortality rates for baby girls and abortions of female fetuses, even though sex selective abortion is supposed to be illegal. An increasingly skewed ratio of boys to girls in many parts of the Chinese countryside has alarmed authorities.

(on camera): Chinese officials admit the problems caused by the one child policy will be hard to solve without a nationwide insurance and pension system so that China's peasant farmers no longer have to rely on their children for support in their old age. But the question is where will the money come from?

(voice-over): Right now, 10 percent of China's population is over 60. But in the next 25 years, that percentage is expected to double because another result of the one child policy is that fewer children will be born as older people live longer.

ANELLA HEYTENS: You basically have one child supporting, you know, two parents and four grandparents. So in the future that is going to be a problem because, you know, you're not going to create enough funding to fund the aging of the population.

MACKINNON: Which means that China's little emperors had better enjoy the pampering while it lasts. When they grow up, they could have a heavy load to pull and a lot of taxes to pay.

Rebecca MacKinnon, CNN, Beijing.


KAGAN: Well, you've seen what happens when a country like China is battling over population. Next on Millennium 2000, what do you do when there aren't enough children being born? We'll bring you that part of the story when we come back.


KAGAN: And now we continue our conversation about the world's population and we go to Rome, a city where the population is growing old.

Our Gayle Young takes a look at that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) GAYLE YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the ancient town of Vastrogirardi, most residents were born here and have grown old here, very old. The town is full of retired pensioners and there's some excitement this day in the main piazza. One-year-old Lara (ph), the only baby born in the town in 1998. There were only two in 1999. Vastrogirardi, like the rest of Italy, is having a major baby bust.

Italy is believed to be the first country in recorded history to have more senior citizens than children. The birth rate has slid from an average of four children per woman at the turn of the century to only one child today. This is one such child. Two-year-old Mikhala (ph) is the only offspring of a young Italian couple. Housing is expensive so there's no room for a second baby in this one bedroom apartment. Her mother Chintzia (ph), like most working women in Italy, has no access to affordable day care so every day Mikhala is bundled up and dropped off at her grandmother's house.

Sociologists say most children of working parents in Rome are cared for by their grandparents during the day.

ANTONIO GOLINI, SOCIOLOGIST: The grandmothers say to their daughters please, I can help you for just one child but no more.

YOUNG: Italy has a long tradition of venerating mother and child but has been slow to adjust as the picture changes. Many women must now work but the government offers them no subsidized day care or tax breaks. Financially and logistically, it's difficult for most Italians to have more than one child.

The life of the mother, the wife, the housewife, is very heavy, says Chintzia. And many women here don't want even one child. A recent magazine survey indicates that only 19 percent of young Italian women want a family. Slightly more than half say they never want children. They are enjoying Italy's famed dolce vita, the sweet life. Thirty-two-year-old Arnella (ph) says she'd rather shop than change diapers.

A child is a sacrifice, she says. I'm not ready for a sacrifice. I'm just too selfish.

The unprecedented demographic shift will bring a host of challenges in the new century. By the time these babies reach adulthood, there could be three senior citizens for every working Italian. That could give taxpayers something to cry about. And the country that once sent its huddled masses as immigrants to the United States is now itself flooded by illegal aliens. Italy has become a wealthy country in the intervening century and for the most part has welcomed the immigrants.

UNIDENTIFIED ITALIAN: We have a sort of empathy, spontaneous empathy towards, you know, those people arriving and not speaking the language and not knowing nothing about our culture, behaving in strange ways because we can identify the same problems of maybe some of our grandparents had.

YOUNG: (on camera): There have been reported incidents of racism in Italy, but so far the country has evaded the violent confrontations involving immigrants that have erupted in other European countries such as France and Germany.

(voice-over): Some fear, though, that Italy's unique character is dying out. In the small town of Vastrogirardi, funerals are outnumbering births 30 to one and the only new construction is to build more tombs in the cemetery. Mayor Vincenzo Venditti is fighting back. He wants to reverse the national trend on a local level. He plans to impose a tax on Vastrogirardi's 70 bachelors. They're the ones who hang out at the Bar Sport as opposed to the elderly who hang out at the pharmacy across the street.

MAYOR VINCENZO VENDITTI, VASTROGIRARDI, ITALY: Since there are a lot of relationships that go on for years, maybe this will get them to consider making a commitment and having a family.

YOUNG: Commitment, family, 45-year-old Orazio (ph) has been dating the same woman for 20 years. Instead of kids, he tends to his dogs at a nearby town owned campground where he works. The mayor isn't the only one who wants to see Orazio married with children. Every day it's the same song from my mother, he says. She wants me to be settled.

Vastrogirardi has been settled for 500 years. Now, says the mayor, the young people need to be settled, too, or the town and a way of life may not make it to the next century.

Gayle Young, CNN, Vastrogirardi, Italy.


CLANCY: And that is our millennium coverage up to the moment.

KAGAN: Coming up in the next hour for our viewers in the U.S., NFL preview on this final week of the regular season. For our international audience, our millennium coverage continues. I'm Daryn Kagan.

CLANCY: And I'm Jim Clancy. Stay with CNN.


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