24/7 Wall St
January 13, 2011
Death in America is a $15 billion a year industry. That includes funeral homes, crematoriums, and cemeteries, but excludes related costs such as headstones and crypts. It is expensive to die in the United States. The average cost of a funeral is $7,323, according to The National Funeral Directors Association. The addition of flowers and a burial plot raises that number closer to $9,000. Almost 2.5 million people died in the United States in 2008, and 1.8 million of these bodies were placed into coffins that were sold.
The death industry is a tale of two economies. A relatively few large companies, most of them publicly traded, control most of the businesses that sells caskets and granite for memorials. The rest of the death industry is made up of many modest businesses. Most of the 19,500 funeral homes in the country are small operations, often owned by the same families for generations. There are more than 120,000 cemeteries and many of these belong to families, nonprofits, and religious institutions.
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