The sentiment surrounding cremation has undergone a huge shift in the last few decades. That’s clear based off of the latest data. According to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) the annual rate of cremation is trending upward strongly:
- 32.3% in 2005
- 40.4% in 2010
- 48.5% in 2015
- 57.5% in 2021
With such a steady increase it’s no wonder experts are predicting that by 2030 the cremation rate will be 72.8%. In just 25 years (roughly a generation and a half), cremation has gone from being a rare choice in most areas to a common option for Americans across the country.
Cremation Rates by Generation
Different organizations have been surveying consumers and tracking cremations for years. Part of this effort is to determine trends in the funeral industry and what consumers will gravitate towards. As the rate of cremation rises, expertis are now drilling down into who is choosing cremation by generation.
The Silent Generation (born between 1928 and 1945)
Of all the generations, the Silent Generation is the least likely to choose cremation. This is mostly due to the societal norms they are familiar with and their affiliation with Christianty. Christians are much more likely to choose burial over cremation due to religious traditions.
A 2019 Pew Research Center survey found that unlike other generations, over the last decade not many members of the Silent Generation have changed their stance on religion. Between 2009 and 2019, there was a decline of just 2% in the number of people who identified as Christian. In total, 84% of the Silent Generation considers themselves to be Christian.
Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964)
Even though 76% of Baby Boomers are Christians, the majority that make advance funeral arrangements choose cremation. And one survey found that 80% of Baby Boomers will opt for cremation in the years to come. The fact alone that cremation rates have risen over the last decade is proof the most populace generation in America is open to the idea of being cremated.
Interestingly, a survey from Coldspring USA suggests that Baby Boomers are bridging the gap between burials and cremation more than other generations. People in the Baby Boomer generation are more likely to have cremains buried in a cemetery or kept at a religious columbarium whereas younger generations want to have their cremains kept at home or put out in nature.
Gen X (born between 1965 and 1980)
As the generations get younger the percentage that do or would choose cremation increases. And just because Gen Xers are the generation with the most disposable income right now that doesn’t mean they want to have an expensive, elaborate funeral. Gen Xers are very likely to take environmental concerns into consideration, which gives cremation an edge. They are also less traditional and few years ago approximately 65% of Gen Xers said they would like to have an end of life celebration rather than a traditional funeral.
Also of note is the fact that many Gen Xers are now helping their parents make funeral decisions. That means their preferences can have an influence on older generations.
Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996)
Millennials are known for bucking traditions, so it isn’t a surprise to find this generation is very open to cremation along with other non-traditional forms of body disposition that allow for more personalization. They are also less likely to identify as Christian, which is a significant contributing factor for this generation choosing cremation.
The same Pew Research Center survey noted above also found there was a 16% drop in Christianty among Millennials from 2009 to 2019. Today less than half of people in this generation identify as Christian and 40% are unaffiliated, both of which are influencing the rising rate of cremations.
Another interesting connection comes from the Coldspring survey. They found people who pre-plan funeral arrangements are more likely to choose cremation. And the generation that is doing the most pre-planning according to their research is Millennials.
Generation Z (1997 to present)
While there is no data from this young group, it’s safe to assume that people in Generation Z will be even more open to cremation than earlier generations now that it’s more common than burial. This familiarity with the process could be what pushes the cremation rate up above 75% in the next decade.
At Direct Cremate we help families plan direct cremations that are affordable and practical. You can give us a call, text or email any time of day for one-on-one assistance making arrangements.