The National Funeral Directors Association recently released its 2022 Cremation and Burial Report. Here are some highlights that may be of interest to you and your loved ones:
The rise of cremation and decline in burial
Many factors contribute to the rising selection of cremation by U.S. consumers, including cost considerations; environmental concerns; an increasingly transient population; fewer religious prohibitions against the practice; and changing consumer preferences, such as the desire for simpler, less ritualized funeral ceremonies.
In addition, cremation has become socially acceptable as more Americans think and talk about death in new ways. Cremation’s popularity is only expected to increase.
Overall, the annual rise in the percentage of cremations, and the corresponding decline in the percentage of burials, has followed a relatively steady pattern nationally, averaging
about 1.5% per year in most states. The annual number of cremations in the United States is expected to rise from 1.91 million in 2022 to 2.26 million by 2030, and to 2.94 million by 2040. For comparison, the number of cremations in 2010 was 1 million.
By 2040, the cremation rate is projected to grow to 78.7% of all U.S. deaths.
Increasing preference for cremation will result in burials declining from 1.3 million in 2020 to 817,850 in 2030, and then to 608,200 in 2040. For comparison, the number of burials in 2010 was 1.3 million.
What happens to cremated remains?
Approximately 41% of cremated remains are buried or interred at a cemetery; 26% are returned to families; 18% are scattered in a sentimental place; and 14% are split among relatives.
Number of U.S. deaths
The annual number of U.S. deaths is related to the age structure of the American population. U.S. life expectancy decreased from 78.86 years in 2019 to 76.99 years in 2020 and 76.60 years in 2021, a net loss of 2.26 years, according to the Virginia Commonwealth University, Urban Institute.
The CDC reports deaths due to COVID-19 are the main factor in the overall drop in U.S. life expectancy. A surge in drug overdose deaths also contributed to the life expectancy decline.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, older adults are projected to outnumber children by the year 2035 for the first time in American history: 78 million people age 65 years and older versus 76.7 million under the age of 18.
In the absence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the total number of deaths in the U.S. was projected to grow steadily from 2019 through 2022, averaging approximately 29,000 additional deaths each year. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to have increased the number of deaths by 543,000 in 2021 and 289,000 in 2022.
The COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to increase the number of U.S. deaths by 289,000 in 2022.
COVID-19 is still the third leading cause of death in the U.S. As of May 31, 2022, there were 1,001,313 coronavirus-related deaths in the U.S., and the death toll is expected to continue climbing according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Several factors impact whether new COVID-19 cases are increasing or declining, including the effectiveness of vaccines over time; human behavior; infection-prevention policies; changes to the coronavirus itself; and the number of people who are vulnerable because they haven’t developed some immunity, whether from natural infection or through vaccination, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Currently, the U.S. death rate is increasing in the short term, and the CDC predicts that COVID-19 deaths will continue to rise to more than 1,022,000.
Preplanning your final arrangements ensures that your family understands your final wishes and alleviates a great deal of stress.
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