Guess what? Cremation rates in America continue to grow, but not as fast as it has in recent years. We’re now at a national average cremation rate of 46.7%, based on provisional data that’s subject to change. A 50% national rate is projected to be reached in the next 12-18 months, possibly by early 2016.
Every year, the Cremation Association of North America (CANA) issues its report on statistics and trends on cremation rates in America and Canada. At the organization’s 2015 meeting, outgoing president Bob Boetticher Jr. revealed the highlights of figures for 2014.
Projections for 2019 are based upon a “regression analysis” over a ten year period. “We don’t show a straight line shot up,” explained Boetticher. “We don’t project farther than 2019, because Baby Boomers are not predictable, and economic and social issues play into future changes as well. The growth rate is slowing, but it’s still growing.”
Percentage growth rate over the past five years was impacted by population figures and the death rate. The pace of cremation growth has slowed down, from 8.1% growth in 2009 to 7.4% in 2014. CANA indicates there’s an average annual U.S. growth rate of 1.49% per year, down from 1.86% last year. The annual growth rate in Canada is 1.27%.
“Canada embraced cremation years ago, and they’re generally fifteen to twenty points ahead of us,” said Boetticher.
The top 10 states with highest growth rate from 2009 to 2013 are Wyoming, Vermont, Iowa, North Dakota, Kansas, Illinois, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Georgia, and South Dakota. Cremation is growing faster in those states than in other states.
The bottom five states with the lowest percentages of cremations are Mississippi – 19.7%, Alabama – 22.9%, Kentucky – 24.6%, Louisiana – 27.6%, and Tennessee – 30.3%. In these states, cremation is starting to rise at a steady rate. African American families are doing traditional home going ceremonies with the body present, followed by cremation.
“It’s interesting to watch those states embrace this,” said Boetticher. “Where they are now is where many states were 30 years ago, but nobody had the information to share it. These states are ahead of the curve, they get to see this data increase over time, and they have time to prepare for it.”
The top five states in percentages of cremation are Nevada – 75.98%, Washington – 75.2%, Oregon – 73.9%, Hawaii – 72.6%, and Maine – 71.2%.
The number of cremations is rising. In 2014, 126,000 Canadians were cremated. In the United States, 1.4 million cremations were performed in 2014. California was the state with the greatest number of people cremated.
Worldwide, when you look at cremation rates by country in 2012, the top countries are:
- Japan – 100% (one firm in Tokyo does 50,000 cremations a year alone!)
- Taiwan – 91%
- Hong Kong – 90%
- Switzerland – 85%
The United States ranks number 18 in the world, with a 43% cremation rate in 2012. The U.S. national rate in 2014 was 46.7%. In Canada, their national average that year was 67%, so they would rank higher in the worldwide cremation rate derby, although they have a much smaller population.
The CANA report is known for accuracy. CANA has over two decades of tracking, projecting and getting it right when it comes to the numbers on cremation statistics.
They collect their data from state Vital Statistics Departments or other designated regulatory agencies. The results can take up to three years to compile following the close of the calendar year. All death and cremation figures are based on the state or province where they occurred, regardless of residency.
The full report figures are available on an annual basis to all CANA members. CANA is the only international professional association that is focused on all things cremation. Learn more at www.CremationAssociation.org.
You’ll be able to hear an interview with Bob Boetticher, Jr. about this new report on the A Good Goodbye program on FuneralRadio.com in the near future.