A couple of decades ago, someone planning their funeral arrangements chose a traditional burial almost by default. But the cremation rate has gone past 50 percent in the United States as of 2016. That’s especially notable because it took nearly 100 years for the cremation rate to hit five percent in 1972.
But it’s now more popular than ever, especially in certain parts of the country. By 2025, 63.8 percent of people who die in the United States are expected to choose cremation, and by 2035, the cremation rate will be nearly 85 percent. Let’s take a look at three reasons why cremation rates are on the rise.
Cremation is cheaper
With a traditional burial, surviving family members must worry about paying for things like a casket and grave site. So much of what’s considered standard with a traditional burial is optional or downright unnecessary when choosing cremation. Unfortunately, we live in a time where more and more people are crowdfunding for certain expenses, and it’s a cruel fact that some people have to raise money online to cover medical expenses. In cases where medical treatments failed, some families indeed created online campaigns for funeral expenses out of necessity.
A traditional funeral costs around $10,000 on average. When you go into a funeral home and ask about caskets for a recently departed loved one, you can expect to get a quote for several thousand dollars. Cremation services offer more financial flexibility all around. When you visit a place like Legacy Cremation Services and ask about urns, you’re going to get a much different answer. It’s possible to have a cremation service that costs less than $1,000 total. Some people still want to spend more out of the sense that their loved one “deserves it”, but that just makes it easy for funeral homes to charge more. If your loved one indicated that they prefer cremation, then there’s no reason not to choose it for them.
Cremation requires less space
More Americans live in densely populated urban areas nowadays, so it makes sense that city-dwellers are more likely to choose cremation. When you live in a city, you’re often more aware of how much space you’re taking up. The cremation rate is often more than 70 percent in dense urban areas around the world. There’s less room at cemeteries and less room in general. If someone can’t find a spot at a city cemetery, then cremation starts to look like a better and better option.
Washington, Nevada, Oregon, and Hawaii had the highest cremation rates as of 2015. All of those are Western states where the population is centered around big cities like Seattle, Las Vegas, and Portland. In Hawaii, the space problem is even more of an issue. Hawaii consists of several islands. There’s no way to drive to the next state to look for a burial plot. In fact, there’s no way to drive to the next state at all.
There are fewer religious concerns overall
While cremation is higher in the secular West, fewer people opt for it in Southern states like Mississippi and Alabama. The South is more traditional in a lot of ways, so it makes sense that it would also adapt a more conservative view regarding death rites. Also, someone living in rural Alabama is going to have more burial options to pick from than someone living in Honolulu.
In the South, religion also plays a greater role in both life and death. Americans are a little less religious in general nowadays, but a recent Pew survey found that Mississippi and Alabama tied for the designation of most religious state in America. Other southern states like Georgia, Tennessee, and Louisiana aren’t far behind. There are still religious people who choose cremation, but it’s not as common in the South as it is on the East and West coasts.