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42. Cemeteries | The Economics of Everyday Things

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The video explores the evolution and business aspects of cemeteries in the US, highlighting the high costs of traditional burials, financial challenges faced by some cemeteries, and the increasing popularity of cremation. Strategies such as building spreading gardens for ashes and allowing additional urns in existing plots are being used to address limited burial space and rising prices. Different burial practices in other countries, such as leasing graves for a limited time, are also discussed, along with the importance of efficient land use for burials.

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📊 Transcript
Evolution of Cemeteries in the US.
Cemeteries in the US began with church graveyards and family-owned plots.
Urbanization and unsanitary conditions led to the creation of rural cemeteries outside major cities.
Cemeteries in the US are run by religious organizations, municipalities, or private companies/nonprofits.
Cemeteries are viewed as a real estate business, offering extravagant options to consumers with varying budgets and preferences.
Business model of cemeteries like Mountain View focuses on burial rights, not land ownership.
Traditional cemetery costs can exceed $20,000, covering plot opening, closing, and other fees.
Payments made by customers are invested in a Perpetual trust for maintenance of the cemetery.
Financial struggles of some cemeteries can lead to abandonment or bankruptcy.
Owners of bankrupt cemeteries may sell land for development, necessitating the exhumation of buried bodies at their expense.
Challenges faced by cemeteries in finding space and relocating graves for development projects.
The city of Chicago spent $17 million to relocate 15,000 graves for a new runway at O'Hare International Airport.
Cemetery plot broker Terry Ariano assists in the transfer of burial plots in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Reasons for selling burial plots include moving away, changing circumstances, and remarriage.
Rising Value of Cemetery Plots
Cemetery plots can appreciate significantly over time, with some now reaching prices as high as $25,000.
Growing Popularity of Cremation
More Americans are opting for cremation over traditional burial due to lower costs.
Innovative Solutions in Cemeteries
Cemeteries are implementing creative solutions to maximize space, such as building spreading gardens for ashes and allowing cremated remains to be added to existing plots at an additional cost.
Discussion on burial options and future burial rights to save costs.
Mountain View cemetery has $25 million worth of grave space left.
Some countries have different burial practices, such as leasing graves for a limited time.
Tanya Marsh supports more efficient land use for burials.
Human remains do not last forever, even with embalming and caskets.