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Can’t Afford to Die – China’s Funeral Expenses Average 45.4 Percent of Annual Salaries

April 4 is the day for the Qingming Festival, also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day when Chinese families visit their ancestors’ graves.

The data released by the China Funeral Association in 2014 show that funeral services reached 200 billion yuan in 2014. The funeral industry has developed into a booming sector.

According to analysts, China’s funeral industry’s market size was about 263.8 billion yuan in 2020 and may reach 411.4 billion yuan by 2026. Based on the data available, the gross profit margin of leading funeral service companies has been over 80 percent, far exceeding that of leading real estate companies in China, which hovers between 22 and 25 percent.

Behind the funeral industry’s profits are the public’s concerns that the rising cost of funerals means that people will soon be unable to afford funeral services.

A survey report on global funeral expenses by the British life insurance agency SunLife shows that the average funeral expenses worldwide are about 10 percent of the annual income of the local people. For China, however, funeral expenses (37,375 yuan or around US $5,690.90) account for about 45.4 percent of the average annual salaries, ranking second globally.

Source: Tencent, April 3, 2021.