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Cremation Continues to Expand
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For Immediate Release

An annual 5-year study by Wirthlin Worldwide shows that cremation continues to expand as an option that Americans would personally select. For the first time the survey broke out responses from African Americans and Hispanics. According to the new national survey, 46% of Americans plan to choose cremation compared to 45% in 1999, 39% in 1995 and 31% in 1990.

Two groups that were less inclined to choose cremation were African Americans (21%) and members of the Baptist religion (29%). While Whites have the most exposure to the process of cremation (28%), African Americans (13%) have the least. Practicing Baptists, more than any other religion, are more likely to shun cremation because it "destroys the body” (16%).

Primary reasons for choosing cremation are; to save money (30%); because it is simpler, less emotional and more convenient (14%); and to save land (13%). Those who favor cremation tend to be better educated and from household with higher incomes. The most recent figures from 2003 show that the U.S. cremation rate was 28% (700,000 cremations). Based upon increases in acceptance over the past five-year average, the Cremation Association of North America (CANA) has forecast a national cremation rate of 43% by 2025 with over 1.4 million cremations taking place.

Eighty-nine percent of those choosing cremation say they would like some type of ceremony (up from 80% in 1990; and 83 % in 1995). Most (32%) still wanted a traditional funeral while 26% wanted a private service and 25% wanted a memorial service.

The new survey shows that four out of ten Hispanics and Whites would choose cremation. The top reason that those of the Catholic faith (both Hispanics and Whites) would not choose cremation was the misconception that "religion does not allow” when in fact cremation has been allowed since 1965.

One of the major reasons African Americans choose cremation less than Hispanics and Whites is that the funeral is extremely important in the African American community and there is again a misconception that one cannot have a funeral and be cremated.

In regards to what follows cremation, 56% of those choosing cremation said they would purchase an urn; 39% favored scattering of the remains; 24% indicated they would place the cremated remains in a cemetery, (bury 16%), (columbarium 8%); with 1% wanting to place them in a church columbarium. Ten percent said they would take the inurned cremated remains home. Fourteen percent did not know what they would do with the remains.

The survey, entitled "2005 Wirthlin Report, A Study of American Attitudes Toward Ritualization and Memorialization,” was commissioned by the Funeral and Memorial Information Council (FAMIC) of which the Cremation Association of North America (CANA) is a member, along with the majority of other national death care and memorial associations.

In conducting the survey, Wirthlin Worldwide contacted by telephone nearly 1,000 adult Americans age 40 and older including an over-sample of African Americans and Hispanics. The sample was selected to ensure an appropriate state-by -state representation of the nation’s population, a mixture of urban, suburban, and rural areas, diverse age and ethnic groups and various religious beliefs, with a 40% male and 60% female gender distribution because women are known to be the primary decision-makers regarding remembrance and memorialization. The 2005 Wirthlin Report marks the fourth survey that FAMIC has commissioned since 1990.

A full copy of the Wirthlin Report will be reprinted in two installments in The Cremationist magazine, published quarterly by CANA. The first installment which will cover cremation will appear in the February/March/April issue.

Source: Cremation Association of North America