believe that nanotechnology will become as important ass electricity, that it will
allow the creation of new materials and products and great advances in
electronics, energy and medicine. It would certainly allow chips to become
smaller and more powerful than Gordon Moore ever imagined and get his law
beyond "the wall."
Japan and Italy may appear to be very different countries but they have
two important factors in common: a falling birthrate and an ageing society. In
Italy today 18. 9 % of the population is over 65, but this figure is likely to
to 34.4 % by 2050. The average age of Italians is currently 41. 8 and in 2050 is
predicted to be 50, 5 ; 4. 3 % of the population is over 80 and by 2050 that
figure will probably reach 14.2 %. If these projections are right, then in 2050
Italy will have 15 million fewer people than today. Italy has the lowest fertility
rate, at 1. 23 children per woman, and the fastest ageing population in Europe.
In response to these problems the Italian government has decided to offer
women who have a second child a payment of 1, 000 Euros. This has already
been paid to 190, 000 Italian women, but many Italians believe that this policy
does not go far enough. One town, where only 4 babies were born in 2002, has
offered women 10, 000 Euros over a 5-year period for each additional baby.
This kind of policy has been introduced in another European country, Sweden,
and was initially successful in increasing the number of new babies. However
after only a few years the birth rate fell back to the same level before the
financial support was introduced.