More Americans want to be cremated

Data: Cremation Association of North America; Note: Data includes instances of alkaline hydrolysis. Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

More Americans are choosing to be cremated after death rather than having a traditional burial, according to data from the Cremation Association of North America (CANA).

Between the lines: Most people choose cremation over burial because it's cheaper, but others simply "don’t see the value in these old traditions. They’re interested in creating new traditions," Barbara Kemmis, executive director of CANA, told Axios.

By the numbers: In 2004, less than 1/3 of the deceased were cremated in the U.S. In 2016, half of American deaths resulted in cremation. CANA projects the share will rise to 65% in 2028, at which point growth is expected to slow, according to their trend analysis of individual states.

Areas with high affiliation to Christianity as well as lower income and lesser educated populations tend to prefer traditional burials to cremations, according to CANA's research. For example, "bible belt" states such as Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky and Louisiana have some of the lowest cremation rates.

  • Meanwhile, cremation is more popular in areas of the country with more immigrants, other religious groups and higher income people.

New preferences have rattled undertakers, who make significantly more money off of burials than cremations and are now facing urn and casket competition from Amazon and Walmart, the Economist reports ($).

  • Relatives and friends have been making more outlandish requests for their loved ones' funerals or "life celebrations." They've asked for pizza and margaritas, karaoke and tiki huts and even fireworks to shoot their loved one's ashes into the sky, according to an undertaker who spoke to the Economist.

The bottom line: The popularity of traditional, more expensive embalming, caskets and funerals is dying along with the silent generation and baby boomers.

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