Cremation is Here to Stay: Aging Baby Boomers Proved Catalyst in Shift Beyond Traditional Burial

Funeral Industry News Funeral Industry Press Releases NFDA Uncategorized July 15, 2019

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Cremation is Here to Stay: Aging Baby Boomers Proved Catalyst in Shift Beyond Traditional Burial

NFDA 2019 Cremation and Burial Report reveals fourth consecutive year of growth for cremation

Brookfield, Wis. – By the year 2035, adults age 65 and older are projected to outnumber children for the first time in American history, according to the 2019 Cremation and Burial Report, released by the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA). With this large of an aging population comes a natural increase in the death rate.

This rise is concurrent with the ever-growing popularity of cremation, which, for the fourth consecutive year, has outpaced the rate of burial. By 2040, according to the report, the cremation rate in the U.S. is projected to be 78.7% while the burial rate is predicted to be just 15.7%, signifying that cremation is no fading trend – it is the new norm, set in motion by Baby Boomers’ evolving end-of-life preferences.

“The main reasons for the continued rise in cremation rates are cost, the perceived environmental impact, an increasingly transient population, weakening of traditional religious prohibitions and changing consumer preferences,” said Mike Nicodemus, licensed funeral director and NFDA vice president of cremation services. “Baby Boomers have been a significant factor in this shift and their preferences will inform decisions made by the funeral profession for years to come.”

This shift has given funeral homeowners a unique opportunity to adjust business practices to address the impact of cremation and meet changing consumer preferences. The number of licensed crematories in the United States increased 8.9% over the last two years, and approximately one-third of funeral homes operate their own crematories, with another 11% planning to open their own in the next five years.

The increase in the cremation rate also raises the question of what happens to cremated remains after the fact. Families have many options and, according to the report, as of 2019, approximately 42% of cremated remains are returned to families, 35.2% are buried at a cemetery, 16.0% are scattered at non-cemetery locations and 8.1% are placed in a columbarium. As the cremation rate rises in the coming years, non-burial options for cremated remains are expected to gain popularity as well.

Whether families prefer burial or want to learn more about cremation options, they may not know where to start the planning process. Answering questions and filling the knowledge gap at all stages of planning, offers guidance on where to begin, the kinds of decisions that families can make, and the many options available to make a tribute personal and meaningful. Whether visitors are curious about their own affairs or need fast answers following the death of a loved one, the “Ask a Funeral Expert” tool gives access to experienced professionals who can answer questions or refer them to a local funeral director.

As the trusted leader and worldwide resource for the funeral service profession, NFDA lists among their top resources providing helpful information about planning a meaningful service, as well as resources to help people understand their own and others’ grief and loss.

NFDA members may download a copy of the 2019 NFDA Cremation and Burial Report from the association’s website, (login required). The report is available to members at no cost as a benefit of membership.

About the NFDA 2018 Cremation and Burial Report:

The statistical projections contained in the 2019 NFDA Cremation and Burial Report were compiled by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Applied Population Laboratory Department of Community and Environmental Sociology. State-level deaths by method of disposition data were collected from state vital statistics departments or similar state regulatory agencies for the years 2003-17. Other findings presented in the report are from proprietary NFDA research studies, such as the 2019 NFDA Consumer Awareness & Preferences Study.

About National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA):

NFDA is the world’s leading and largest funeral service association, serving more than 20,000 individual members who represent nearly 11,000 funeral homes in the United States and 49 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, please contact 800-228-6332 or visit