Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Is There A Rise In The Number Of Deaths?

My blogger friend Sam over at It's Me, Sam posed a question to me the other day on her blog. She'd been to a couple of funerals and wanted to know :

" Are there particular times of the year where there are more deaths than others? "

The short answer is yes. But maybe not the way you think. There are cyclical predictions that can be made for certain types of deaths, ie. suicide, seasonal illnesses, cancer, motor vehicle accidents, etc.
(See this article for some good reading and nifty charts, and this paper published by Stats-Can for more Canadian charts.)

Now why is that? Good question.

I'm not sure that I have an answer to that, but it has been my experience that the funeral industry as a whole tends to get busier from mid-November until sometime in April. Then it slows down for a period of time. Of course, we can only note trends from the far to recent past, and cannot in any way predict the future. Except maybe to say that overall, the number of deaths will increase over a period of time. Like maybe the next 10 to 20 years.

Some time ago, there was a phenomenon known as the post World War II Baby Boom, 1947 - 1966 in Canada. The Boomers effected everything in their path, from schooling, infrastructure, pension plans and retirement homes to name a few. It is my opinion that they will also affect the funeral industry as a whole as well. I believe that we are in the very beginning of end of life issues for the Boomers, and it will only continue for the next 20 or so years with the increased number of deaths overall, regardless of mode of death.

From The Canadian Encyclopedia: " In 2009, there were approximately 1.3 million people aged 80 or over and by 2036 this could increase to 3.3 million. The aging of the population is projected to accelerate rapidly as more of the baby-boom generation turns 65 and as that happens, the number of senior citizens could exceed the number of children for the first time in Canada's history. "

And this: "  Even if there are no further declines in the fertility rate per woman, there will be declines in the total number of births to well below the annual 400 000 and increases above the annual 200 000 deaths until there are more deaths than births. "

The Berlin Institute for Population and Development states in the Demographic Developments in Canada, " What does increase is the number of deaths: the rapid aging of the baby boom generation results in twice as many deaths in 2051 as in 2011, even though the population grows by only one-quarter and mortality rates continue to fall."

There is a growing trend in the funeral industry for families to have less traditional services, and cremation without any sort of service or memorializing is on the rise. Folks want things done as simply and inexpensive as possible, so that they may leave whatever finances are available to their families, and not being "wasted on a box and an elaborate showing off" as one client put it.

Although I truly understand the want for less expense, I don't totally agree on going without any type of service or ceremony. But that's another post for another day.


  1. Thanks Eboo, absolutely fascinating! I'll be printing off the article from Stats Canada!

  2. Very interesting, Eboo, I want to read more into this too, thanks!