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States Where the Cremation Rate is Growing the Quickest

Is the cremation rate increasing or plateauing in your state? See what the latest data says about the growth of the cremation rate across the U.S.
States Where the Cremation Rate is Growing the Quickest
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It’s no secret that the rate of cremation has been increasing in the U.S. But the United States is a large, very diverse country. Plus, funeral industry laws and regulations are created at the state level. That means some states have more disposition options than others. 

Even though the cremation rate is rising, it’s doing so at a varying pace depending on what state you live in. New data from the Cremation Association of North America (CANA) and the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) is shedding light on where cremation rates are increasing the fastest. Let’s delve into the data to figure out where and why cremation rates are rising quickly in some states and showing signs of plateauing in others. 

States That Have Seen the Biggest Increase in Cremation

It’s one thing to have the highest cremation rate, which goes to Nevada where 81.9% of people are cremated. It’s another to have one of the fastest growing cremation rates. Louisiana is the perfect example. It has one of the lowest cremation rates in the country, yet the state has had one of biggest jumps in the number of cremations performed between 2015 and today. The cremation rate went from 29.7% in 2015 to 43.7% in 2022. 

States Where the Cremation Rate is Growing the Quickest
States Where the Cremation Rate is Growing the Quickest

Between 2015 and 2022 the states below experienced the biggest increase of cremation over burial:

  • West Virginia – 15.6 points higher
  • Missouri – 14.3  points higher
  • Pennsylvania – 14.3 points higher
  • Iowa – 14.2 points higher
  • North Dakota – 14.1 points higher
  • Tennessee – 14 points higher
  • Kansas – 14 points higher
  • Kentucky – 14 points higher
  • Louisiana – 14 points higher
  • Nebraska – 14  points higher
  • Illinois – 13.8 points higher
  • Oklahoma – 13.7 points higher
  • South Dakota – 13.6 points higher
  • Indiana – 13.4 points higher
  • Texas – 13 points higher
  • Wisconsin – 13 points higher
  • North Carolina – 12.6 points higher
  • Arkansas – 12.5 points higher
  • South Carolina – 12.5 points higher
  • Alabama – 12.4 points higher
  • Georgia – 12.3 points higher
  • Mississippi – 12 points higher

If you look at the states with the highest cremation rates historically you may be surprised to find there hasn’t been much of an increase over the last eight years. For instance, in Washington the 2015 cremation rate was 76.4%. By 2022 it had risen slightly to 78.6%.

The converse is also true. The five states with the lowest cremation rates in 2022 all had some of the biggest increases in the cremation rate over the last decade. When you consider the starting rate in 2015 the increases are even more impressive. In West Virginia in 2015 the cremation rate was just 33.2%. An increase of 15.6 percentage points means that the cremation rate rose nearly 50% by 2022. 

Analysis of the data is revealing there are a few reasons for these trends in the state-by-state cremation rates. 

Factors That Are Influencing the State-by-State Cremation Rate

Death care is in a period of transition and innovation. Many people are reevaluating their stances on disposition and the funeral services they want to receive. Cremation has been on the rise for some time, but the Cremation Association of North America believes it’s hit peak velocity nationally and at some point in the near future will essentially level out. Of course, that obviously isn’t the case across the country, but there are some key reasons why the increase in the cremation rate will slow down.  

Fewer People Are Undecided About Cremation 

The cremation rate isn’t increasing as quickly as in years past, which suggests the national rate could plateau soon. Many people are now aware of the advantages cremation has over burial. Fewer people are on the fence and have decided between the two, so there’s going to be less movement with the rates. 

The exception to this is states where the rate of cremation has been well below average. In those states the adoption rate is far from the ceiling that we are beginning to see in states with the highest rates of cremation. However, many of the states with low cremation rates have smaller populations, which is why sizable increases still might not have a huge impact on the national cremation rate if it plateaus in more populous states like Florida and California.

Innovation in the Funeral Industry

CANA notes that new forms of disposition being introduced could affect projections for the cremation rate in coming years. Some states are more invested than others in expanding disposition options to include water cremation (alkaline hydrolysis) and natural organic reduction. In the case of alkaline hydrolysis, states that allow the service give residents one more option outside of burial that falls into the cremation category. More cremation options should correlate with an increase in cremations. 

There’s also the mindset that’s involved. In states where the funeral industry is evolving and the public discourse is based on practical matters like environmental damage, people are more open to alternative forms of disposition. There’s less stigma and the public sentiment is more inclusive, recognizing that disposition is a personal choice that an individual should be able to make for themselves. 

Religious Influences on Funeral Services

Funeral services are closely tied to religion for many people. Even people who aren’t devoted to their religious practice may feel compelled to choose a certain type of disposition because of the religion they identify with. The cremation rate in Utah is expected to cap at a much lower number than surrounding states given that Mormons make up a sizable portion of the state population, and their preference is burial. 

More people are choosing direct cremation because it’s affordable, eco-friendly, efficient and allows the family to have a memorial service for their loved one without the pressure of getting it all done in a few days. If you’d like to know more about arranging an eco-friendly cremation in Texas, give our team a call or text whenever is most convenient for you.

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Marlaena Gonzales

Funeral Director
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