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U.S. Cremation Rate Expected to Top 80% by 2045

Published on September 1, 2023 on NFDA News Releases

Brookfield, Wis. – The U.S. cremation rate is expected to increase in the United States from 60.5% in 2023 to 81.4% by 2045, according to the National Funeral Directors Association’s (NFDA) 2023 Cremation and Burial Report. 

When it comes to cremation, the report reveals Washington, Nevada, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado have emerged as frontrunners, and by the year 2035 these states are projected to have cremation rates reaching 80% or higher – reporting the highest cremation rates in the country. With projections indicating a continued upward trend over the next two decades, the increase in cremation sheds light on Americans' evolving preferences of cremation as a preferred choice for end-of-life arrangements. 

Although the regions of the United States that are anticipated to lead in cremation by 2035 are primarily located in the western part of the country, there has been a significant shift in the Southeast, Great Lakes, and Mid-Atlantic regions as well: Between 2021-23, the number of crematories in these areas has risen by 5.2%, signaling a shift in sentiment and increased adoption of cremation. 

According to this year’s findings, the rise in cremation is due to cost considerations, environmental concerns, an increasingly transient population, changing consumer preferences and fewer religious prohibitions against the practice. In fact, the percentage of U.S. consumers age 40 and older who feel it is “very important” to have religion play a part in the funeral process decreased by over 5% (49.5% to 44.3%) from 2012 to 2022.

“With the anticipated significant increase in the percentage of cremations over the next 20 years, our role as funeral directors is more important than ever to help families navigate the planning process and discuss all available options when it comes to end-of-life matters,” said NFDA President Jack Mitchell, who also serves as president of Mitchell-Wiedefeld Funeral Home in Baltimore Maryland. “Cremation is only one element of the memorialization process and should be approached that way. When cremation is part of a meaningful funeral or memorial service, we have found it to play a vital role in the healing journey.” 

NFDA’s 2023 Consumer Preferences Survey unveiled compelling insights into the factors driving the increasing desire for cremation. According to the survey, a significant 54.4% of respondents cited cost-effectiveness as the primary reason for choosing cremation. Additionally, 42.5% expressed that cremation is easier, simpler, and more convenient, while 24.1% stated that it aligns with their personal preference or family traditions. Further analysis of the survey data reveals that among those who prefer cremation, 37.7% express a desire to have their remains scattered in sentimental locations, 17.3% indicate they have yet to decide on the disposition of their remains and 17% prefer a burial or interment at a cemetery. 

NFDA’s online consumer resource, Remembering A Life, helps families honor their loved ones in meaningful ways and begin the grief journey. The resource is for anyone who is grieving the death of a loved one or would like to support someone who is, and those who would like to preplan a meaningful tribute.

As the trusted leader and worldwide resource for the funeral service profession, NFDA lists Remembering A Life among their top resources because it provides families with the information they need based on their individual circumstances, whether a death has just occurred, they are planning in advance, want to support a friend who is grieving and more.

NFDA members may download a complimentary copy of the 2022 Cremation & Burial Report via the NFDA Store, (click the “Downloadable Products” category). Nonmembers may purchase the report for $175.

About the NFDA 2023 Cremation and Burial Report:

The statistical projections contained in the 2023 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 2002-21. Other findings presented in the report are from proprietary NFDA research studies, such as the 2023 NFDA Consumer Awareness & Preferences Study. With any statistical projection, there might be variations from year to year in an individual state. For the complete methodology, contact NFDA at 800-228-6332

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