Chinese Eye Alternative Funerals As Graveyard Prices Skyrocket | Media Hard

Chinese Eye Alternative Funerals As Graveyard Prices Skyrocket

Chinese Eye Alternative Funerals As Graveyard Prices Skyrocket

A Chinese woman carrying a child visits the Babaoshan cemetery in Beijing. The price per square meter of plots in Babaoshan has surpassed the city’s housing markets. (Photo credit STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Anyone familiar with China knows that it’s a crowded place. Houses are getting smaller and more expensive, traffic jams can last longer than ten days, and city subways have staff on call during rush hour to pack people into trains. But while crammed public spaces and competitive markets are irritating to say the least, at least we can rest easy knowing they won’t follow us into the afterlife, right?

Think again. The cost of grave plots in China are rising so fast that they’re beginning to outpace the country’s housing markets. According to a 2015 funeral development report jointly issued by China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Social Sciences Academic Press, Beijing residents shell out 80,000 yuan on average for funeral expenses. The same year, China’s National Bureau of Statistics reported that the average annual salary for a worker in Beijing’s private-sector was 52,902 yuan. If a worker somehow managed to save every penny from their paychecks, it would take them nearly a year and a half to afford a burial.

Graveyard Market Bubble

Unsurprisingly, the world’s largest population also experiences the most deaths per year. China’s current mortality rate is around 7.1 deaths per 1,000 people, which makes the country’s annual death rate roughly 10 million. This has led to a boom in the funeral market, which was worth about $ 15.4 billion in 2013, and which entrepreneurs have wasted absolutely no time capitalizing on. Cemeteries popping up directly outside the country’s capital try and draw Beijing customers by selling plots for a fraction of what it costs to be buried in the city, while other companies offer more inventive burial methods, like turning the ashes of your loved ones into diamonds or shooting them into outer space.

Lin Hui Zhen, 76 years, weeps as she clutches the small bag carrying the ashes of her late husband Fu Yao Ming, 80 years, before placing them in a metal chute during a sea burial organized by the Funeral and Internment Administration of Shanghai on a ferry in the East China Sea off Shanghai, China. Shanghai is among a number of cities in China promoting sea burials through cash incentives in an attempt to offset a shortage of land for cemeteries due to a rapidly ageing population. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Central and local government efforts to try and regulate the market bubble have seen mixed results. A pre-announced June 2014 ban on grave burials by the local government in eastern China’s Anhui province led to a spate of last-minute suicides. In the days leading up to the June 1 deadline, at least seven elderly people killed themselves so they could consign their bodies to be buried.

Eco-Friendly Funerals

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A Chinese woman carrying a child visits the Babaoshan cemetery in Beijing. The price per square meter of plots in Babaoshan has surpassed the city’s housing markets. (Photo credit STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Anyone familiar with China knows that it’s a crowded place. Houses are getting smaller and more expensive, traffic jams can last longer than ten days, and city subways have staff on call during rush hour to pack people into trains. But while crammed public spaces and competitive markets are irritating to say the least, at least we can rest easy knowing they won’t follow us into the afterlife, right?

Think again. The cost of grave plots in China are rising so fast that they’re beginning to outpace the country’s housing markets. According to a 2015 funeral development report jointly issued by China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Social Sciences Academic Press, Beijing residents shell out 80,000 yuan on average for funeral expenses. The same year, China’s National Bureau of Statistics reported that the average annual salary for a worker in Beijing’s private-sector was 52,902 yuan. If a worker somehow managed to save every penny from their paychecks, it would take them nearly a year and a half to afford a burial.

Graveyard Market Bubble

Unsurprisingly, the world’s largest population also experiences the most deaths per year. China’s current mortality rate is around 7.1 deaths per 1,000 people, which makes the country’s annual death rate roughly 10 million. This has led to a boom in the funeral market, which was worth about $ 15.4 billion in 2013, and which entrepreneurs have wasted absolutely no time capitalizing on. Cemeteries popping up directly outside the country’s capital try and draw Beijing customers by selling plots for a fraction of what it costs to be buried in the city, while other companies offer more inventive burial methods, like turning the ashes of your loved ones into diamonds or shooting them into outer space.

Lin Hui Zhen, 76 years, weeps as she clutches the small bag carrying the ashes of her late husband Fu Yao Ming, 80 years, before placing them in a metal chute during a sea burial organized by the Funeral and Internment Administration of Shanghai on a ferry in the East China Sea off Shanghai, China. Shanghai is among a number of cities in China promoting sea burials through cash incentives in an attempt to offset a shortage of land for cemeteries due to a rapidly ageing population. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Central and local government efforts to try and regulate the market bubble have seen mixed results. A pre-announced June 2014 ban on grave burials by the local government in eastern China’s Anhui province led to a spate of last-minute suicides. In the days leading up to the June 1 deadline, at least seven elderly people killed themselves so they could consign their bodies to be buried.

Eco-Friendly Funerals

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