Population growth is a fact of life, although in the United States, it has slowed down in recent years. Not so the second major component of population statistics, the number of people dying.

As baby boomers age, their numbers are already having a significant effect on the healthcare and retirement sectors and soon, the funeral industry. In 2019, the country can expect about 2.7 million residents to pass away, an increase of about 1 percent from the previous year. But by 2030, baby boomers will swell the ranks of the deceased, and the total death count is expected to jump to 3.1 million.

How is the funeral industry preparing to handle this jump?

Are there enough space in graveyards?

With cremation now surpassing traditonal burial, what will the impact be on graveyards?

Of most interest to the American Forecaster, changes in the culture of dying and technological advances will impact this sector. The majority of adults now approve of cremation as an alternative to burial, but the process itself is confronting issues tied to pollution and cost. Embalming, a mainstream practice for little more than one hundred years, is also staged for pushback from consumers concerned about threats to the environment.

Meanwhile, a rapidly spreading alternative to cremation and burial is moving toward mainstream impact. Alkaline hydrolysis breaks down body tissues in a chemical bath and promises a nontoxic substitute for cremation but has already generated concerns about negative impacts. On the way is a more advanced form of this proven process and the potential for the funeral industry to endorse what could be a significant disrupter for an industry that is used to promoting tradition over change.

End of Life is our overview of how societies deal with the end product of death. To present the elements of change, we start with the past, a narrative that encompasses the beginning of underground burials, crypts, embalming, and cremation. This report provides a careful background and introduction to the changes that are already underway in one of the most important, if rarely talked about, business sectors in the country.

End of Life

44 pages, 8 1/2 x 11 inches

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