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Trends in Methods of Disposition in Texas 1989-2003

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Trends in methods of disposing of the deceased were analyzed using the Texas Department of State Health Service’s resident death data from 1989-2003. These years were chosen because they represent the range of years for which final electronic data on disposition were available.

Disposition by Type

Methods of disposition include burial, cremation, removal from the state, donation, and other.1 Burial is still the most common form of disposition in Texas. From 1989-2003, approximately 80% of all Texas resident decedents were buried. During this same time period, there has been a gradual decrease in burials (Figure A). In 1989, almost 84% of Texas resident decedents were buried. That number declined to 73% in 2003.

Percent of Deaths by Disposition and Year

( Graph data)

Cremations are gradually increasing as a method of disposition. Cremations accounted for only 7% of the dispositions for Texas resident decedents in 1989, but by 2003 that number had increased to 20%. Nationwide, cremations have been on the rise as well. In 1989, the U.S. cremation rate was 16.4% and by 2003 it was up to 28.7%.2

Removal from state indicates that the body was shipped out of Texas. Eight percent of Texas resident decedents were removed from the state during 1989. In 2003, the number of out of state transports had dropped to 5%.

Donation refers to the entire body and not to individual organs.1 Donations have remained consistently less than 1% for of all Texas resident decedents since 1989.

Disposition by Race/Ethnicity

When Texas resident decedents are categorized as White, Black, Hispanic, and Other, burials are the most frequent method of disposition for each group. Burials account for 91% of dispositions among Blacks (Table 1), making Blacks the race that uses burial the most for disposition. However, if the "Other" category is analyzed by race, cremation is more frequent than burial for Asian Indians, Central or South American Indians , Japanese, and Hawaiians. Cremations comprise 55% of dispositions among Asian Indians, whereas burials account for 38% (Table 1). The majority of US Asian Indians are Hindu, and the preferred method of disposition is cremation.3

 

Table 1. Percent distribution of deaths by disposition and race/ethnicity; Texas Residents, 1989-2003
Race/Ethnicity Burial Cremation Removal from state Donation Other Unknown
TOTAL 79.7 13.0 5.9 0.9 0.4 0.1
 
White 77.1 15.6 5.5 1.2 0.5 0.1
Black 91.0 4.1 4.4 0.2 0.2 0.1
Hispanic 83.5 7.0 9.0 0.1 0.3 0.1
Other 55.9 34.6 8.4 0.3 0.3 0.5
   Selected Other Race/Ethnicities            
      North American Indian 60.4 18.9 19.7 0.7 0.1 0.1
      Chinese 55.2 38.9 5.1 0.4 0.3 0.1
      Japanese 44.5 50.4 4.1 0.7 0.2 0.2
      Hawaiian 45.3 47.7 7.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
      Filipino 56.5 25.4 16.8 0.2 0.9 0.2
      Central or South American Indian 20.0 40.0 0.0 0.0 40.0 0.0
      Asian Indian 38.2 55.0 6.2 0.3 0.2 0.1
      Korean 72.8 20.9 6.1 0.2 0.1 0.0
      Samoan 64.7 11.8 23.5 0.0 0.0 0.0
      Vietnamese 56.6 38.4 4.9 0.1 0.0 0.0
      Guamanian 63.6 12.1 24.2 0.0 0.0 0.0

Disposition by Sex

Compared with males, approximately 2% more females were buried during 1989-2003. There were about 2% more male decedents than female who were cremated (Table 2).

 

 

Table 2. Percent distribution of deaths by sex; Texas Residents, 1989-2003

Disposition Male Female
Burial 78.5 80.9
Cremation 14.2 11.7
Removal from state 5.9 5.9
Donation 0.9 0.9
Other 0.4 0.4
Unknown 0.1 0.1

Disposition by County of Residence

Click on the year to see disposition by decedent's county of residence

1999 , 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003

References:

  1. Handbook on Death Registration 2002. Bureau of Vital Statistics, Texas Department of Health.
  2. Cremation Association of North America (CANA), 2005.
  3. Alagiakrishnan, K. and Chopra, A. Health and Health Care of Asian Indian American Elders. Available at http://www.stanford.edu/group/ethnoger/asianindian.html (Accessed December 6, 2005).

 

Last updated April 25, 2012