The nation’s Hispanic and Asian populations would triple over the next half-century and non-Hispanic whites would represent about one-half of the total population by 2050, according to interim population projections released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Overall, the country’s population would continue to grow, increasing from 282.1 million in 2000 to 419.9 million in 2050. However, after 2030 the rate of increase might be the slowest since the Great Depression of the 1930s, as the size of the “baby boom” population continues to decline.

Still, the nation’s projected 49 percent population increase during the next 50 years would be in sharp contrast to most European countries, whose populations are expected to decline by mid-century.

From 2000 to 2050, the non-Hispanic, white population would increase from 195.7 million to 210.3 million, an increase of 14.6 million or 7 percent. This group is projected to actually lose population in the 2040s and would comprise just 50.1 percent of the total population in 2050, compared with 69.4 percent in 2000.

Nearly 67 million people of Hispanic origin (who may be of any race) would be added to the nation’s population between 2000 and 2050. Their numbers are projected to grow from 35.6 million to 102.6 million, an increase of 188 percent. Their share of the nation’s population would nearly double, from 12.6 percent to 24.4 percent.

The Asian population is projected to grow 213 percent, from 10.7 million to 33.4 million. Their share of the nation’s population would double, from 3.8 percent to 8 percent.

The black population is projected to rise from 35.8 million to 61.4 million in 2050, an increase of about 26 million or 71 percent. That would raise their share of the country’s population from 12.7 percent to 14.6 percent.

The country’s population also is expected to become older.

Childbearing rates are expected to remain low while baby-boomers – people born between 1946 and 1964 – begin to turn 65 in 2011. By 2030, about 1-in-5 people would be 65 or over.

The female population is projected to continue to outnumber the male population, going from a numerical difference of 5.3 million in 2000 (143.7 million females and 138.4 million males) to 6.9 million (213.4 million females and 206.5 million males) by mid-century.

The projections for the resident population of the United States are by age, sex, race (including the categories white, black, Asian and “all other races”) and Hispanic origin. They are based on Census 2000 results and assumptions about future childbearing, mortality and international migration.

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