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Consumer Preference for Cremation Expected to Surpass Burial in 2015

October 13, 2014

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Consumer Preference for Cremation Expected to Surpass Burial in 2015

Originally published by NFDA on

The rate of cremation is projected to surpass that of burial in 2015 according to a new report on the state of cremation released by the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) during the Opening General Session of its annual International Convention & Expo. The 2014 NFDA Cremation and Burial Report: Research, Statistics and Projections features statistics and in-depth analysis of consumer attitudes toward cremation.

According to the report, the rate of cremation was estimated to be 45.1 percent in 2013; that year, the rate of burial was estimated to be 48.9 percent. By the end of 2015, the rates of cremation and burial are projected to be 48.2 percent and 45.8 percent, respectively.

By 2030, NFDA estimates that 70.6 percent of consumers will chose cremation. In 2011, only 17 states had cremation rates that exceeded 50 percent; by 2020, 39 states are projected to have more cremations than burials and by 2030, 47 states are expected to have a cremation rate greater than 50 percent.

2011 2013
2020 2030
Burials (%) 51.69 48.9 47.3 45.8 38.1 23.2
Cremations (%) 42.2 45.1 46.7 48.2 55.8 70.6

The 2014 NFDA Cremation and Burial Report: Research, Statistics and Projections is part of the enhanced cremation services the association is offering to members. NFDA offers members comprehensive cremation-related education; the profession’s leading cremation certification program, the Certified Crematory OperatorTM (CCO) program; a cremation consultation hotline; informational resources; and more.

“As the rate of cremation continues to increase, it’s vital that NFDA deliver the tools and resources that members need to serve the diverse needs of families that choose cremation,” said NFDA Vice President of Cremation Services Mike Nicodemus. “This report will give members the data they need to plan and make informed decisions about their funeral home’s approach to serving families that choose cremation.”

In addition to statistical information for the United States and selected countries for which reliable data is available, the report also explores other research on consumer attitudes toward cremation:

  • The rise in consumer preference for cremation is due to a number of factors, including cost, decreased household discretionary income, environmental concerns, fewer religious prohibitions of the practice, a growing preference for simpler, and less ritualized funeral ceremonies.
  • More than 58 percent of consumers associate cremation with a memorial service; just over 15 percent of consumers associate a traditional funeral ceremony prior to cremation.
  • More than half of adult consumers would encourage their loved ones to plan a memorial ceremony – only 14 percent of consumers would discourage it.
  • While most consumers feel that a religious funeral service is important, 29 percent do not believe it is essential, an increase over the past three years.

The state and national death, cremation and burial projections contained in the 2014 NFDA and Burial Cremation Report were compiled with the assistance of experts from the University of Wisconsin – Madison Applied Population Laboratory Department of Community and Environmental Sociology. Many of the other findings presented in this report are from proprietary NFDA research studies, such as the annual Consumer Awareness & Preferences Study2014 Cremation and Burial Business Practices Study, and the 2013 NFDA General Price List Survey.

The 2014 NFDA Cremation and Burial Report: Research, Statistics and Projections is available to NFDA members at no charge. It can be downloaded from the NFDA website, Members can request a printed copy by calling their member services representative at 800-228-6332.

NFDA is the world’s leading and largest funeral service association, serving 19,700 individual members who represent more than 10,000 funeral homes in the United States and 39 countries around the world. NFDA is the trusted leader, beacon for ethics and the strongest advocate for the profession. NFDA is the association of choice because it offers funeral professionals comprehensive educational resources, tools to manage successful businesses, guidance to become pillars in their communities and the expertise to foster future generations of funeral professionals. NFDA is headquartered in Brookfield, Wis., and has an office in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit