There are hard times for Norwegian undertakers and coffin manufacturers. (Illustration: Politiken.dk)
Fewer and fewer Norwegians die, and not since the late 1970s, there have been registered so few deaths in Norway as in 2014. This is good news for about five million living Norwegians, but not so good news for the funeral agencies.
Figures from Statistics Norway (SSB) show that the number of deaths is historically low and that it “only” died about 40,000 people last year. The figure is 1,000 fewer than in 2013 and about 4,500 fewer than in 1991.
Norway’s largest funeral agency, Jølstad Begravelsesbyrå, with offices throughout Norway tells NRK that it has been quiet.
– There have been fewer deaths than in a long time. The first months of the year, when most people normally die because of cold and flu, it was especially quiet, says CEO, Jan Willy Løken.
Løken says that the trend is the same as in other northern European countries. He does not have any clear answer why it died fewer in 2014 than in 2013, but that some of the decline is due to the 2004 smoking ban. Moreover, it has been an increased focus on hygiene and hand washing after the 2009 swine flu pandemic.
Low Birth Rate
However, improved health is only part of the explanation.
People are living longer, and the birth rate in Norway was low in the 1920s and 30s, says Espen Søbye who has written the book “Population Movement 1735 to 2014” (Norwegian: “Folkemengdens bevegelse 1735–2014”).
In 1935 only about 40,000 children were born. These children are now reaching the life expectancy of about 80 years – and consequently fewer Norwegians statistically are going to die.
Need for More Coffins
However, it will not continue to be silent. From 2025, it will look quite different.
– In 1946, it was born 70,000 children. This is a quite formidable increase from 1935. It is clear that confidence in the future was great after World War II, says Søbye.
The consequence is natural.
– When these children are approaching the average life expectancy, the funeral agencies will be busy and the coffin manufacturers must start producing, Søbye concludes.
Text modified by: Thor Lanesskog, ThorNews