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UK 12th in world for cremation

The proportion of deaths in the UK that result in cremation is around the 12th highest in the world, according to statistics compiled for The Cremation Society of Great Britain.

The figures gleaned from the society’s contacts in 77 countries and printed in full in the winter 2014 issue of its official journal Pharos International, show an estimated 436,280 deaths in the UK in 2013 resulted in cremation. 

This is an increase of 10,296 compared to the figures for 2012, and the number accounted for 75% of the total. The international statistics are not comprehensive for all countries, but provide enough information from at least 30 to offer an intriguing picture. 

The figures show the countries that embrace cremation most comprehensively are Japan, where the proportion cremated is 99.97% or 1,324,766 deaths, Taiwan, with 92%, and Hong Kong, where 90% of deaths lead to cremation.

The lowest proportions are in African nations, such as Ghana, where less than 6% of deaths result in cremation.  

Among European countries, the proportion choosing cremation is highest in Switzerland and Slovenia (both 82%) and Denmark (81%), with Sweden (80%) and Czech Republic (79%) the only other European nations that show a higher proportion of cremations than the UK.

The people of Ireland are currently the most reluctant in Europe when it comes to cremation, with figures showing that only 13% of families opt for a cremation for their loved ones. Two other countries with predominantly Catholic traditions also record relatively low proportions of cremation – Poland (approximately 12%) and Italy, where only 18% choose it. The study records lower figures for Romania but these are for Bucharest only. 

Only Cuba recorded a decrease in the number of deaths leading to cremation and this was only slight. Figures listed for Romania, Spain, Zimbabwe and Trinidad & Tobago also show a drop but these are for one small area only in each case and therefore possibly not representative of the country as a whole.

Although the USA has more crematoria than any other country – 2,689 – cremations still account for less than half the total number of deaths. However, this is increasing, with 151,751 more cremations in 2013 compared to 2012. Thailand, where 80% of deaths result in cremation has 2,077 crematoria, while Japan has 1,509 in total.

Pictured above: Kirkleatham Crematorium, Redcar

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