CANA Says Cremation Rate Doubled in Past 15 Years, Big Correlation Between High Cremation Rates and No Affiliation with Organized Religion

October 5, 2015

Fascinating correlation between states with high cremation rates,

states with large population unaffiliated with organized religion

WHEELING, ILL. – The cremation rate in the U.S. has almost doubled in the past 15 years, according to a report released today by the Cremation Association of North America (CANA). Today, states with high cremation rates, typically in the west and northeast, bear a striking resemblance to states, also in the west and northeast, that report having a large number of people who do not identify with any organized religion.

  • The five states with the highest percentage of cremations in 2014 were: Nevada (75.9 percent), Washington (75.2 percent), Oregon (73.9 percent), Hawaii (72.6 percent) and Maine (71.2 percent); the majority of residents in these states don’t identify with organized religion and are open to more personal ways to remember their loved ones.
  • The five states with the lowest percentage of cremations in 2014 were: Mississippi (19.7 percent), Alabama (22.9 percent), Kentucky (24.6 percent), Louisiana (27.6 percent) and Utah (29.7 percent); the majority of residents in these states are affiliated with a religion, which typically leads to a more traditional view of memorialization.

In 2014, nearly one in two Americans (46.7 percent) selected cremation as an alternative to burial. This compares to only about one in four people (24.8 percent) who chose cremation in 1999. These findings come from the Cremation Statistics Annual Report produced by CANA, the preeminent source on cremation data for the United States and Canada.

There was a similar increase in the percentage of Americans who are unaffiliated with any organized religion and who said they would “definitely” or are “somewhat likely” to select cremation for friends and family – from 60 percent in 2004 to 91 percent in 2015 – according to a recent Funeral and Memorialization Information Council study. A May 2015 Pew Research Study showing a dramatic shift over the past seven years in the number of Americans who do not identify with any organized religion supports this trend.

“Americans are choosing cremation as a way to remember their loved ones more than ever before,” said CANA Board President Sheri Stahl. “Cremation is becoming the new normal, primarily because people can personalize the way they want to memorialize friends and family, and because it is perceived as a more affordable, better value for memorialization.”

Meanwhile, the CANA report also projects that Canada’s cremation rate is expected to rise to nearly 73 percent by 2019.

“Canada has consistently had higher cremation rates compared to the U.S. We can trace it back to 1963,” said Robert Boetticher, Jr., CANA’s Immediate Past President. “We can learn a lot from our Canadian neighbors about how to approach cremation as a form of memorialization.”

How Americans view cremation as a way to remember loved ones is changing. For example, as more faith traditions become more accepting of cremation, members of those faith communities report they are “as likely” or up to 10 percent “more likely” to choose cremation than respondents in the “as likely” and “more likely” categories five years ago.

Cremation also allows greater flexibility when planning memorialization. People can easily transport their loved one’s remains to make timing more convenient for families, place the remains in a single location, scatter them at a favorite site (with appropriate permission from property owners) or divide and incorporate them into keepsake urns, jewelry and other items.

Other highlights from the report include:

  • United States of America
    • The U.S. cremation rate is expected to rise to 52.9 percent by 2019
    • Connecticut, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin are the newest states to reach cremation rates above 50 percent in 2014
    • Canada
      • 2014 annual growth rate – five year average – is 66.8 percent
      • Saskatchewan is the newest province in 2014 to cross the 60 percent threshold for its cremation rate

For at least the past 27 years, CANA’s report of the annual growth rate has been accurate to within +/- 1.6 percent. Since 1913, CANA has been collecting death and cremation data in the U.S. and Canada.

To see the full report, which includes international cremation statistics and historical data going back to 1876 for the U.S. and 1902 for Canada, visit


About the Cremation Association of North America (CANA)

Founded in 1913, the Cremation Association of North America (CANA) is an international organization of over 3,300 members, composed of funeral homes, cemeteries, crematories, industry suppliers, and consultants. CANA members believe that cremation is preparation for memorialization. To learn more about CANA, visit

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