Photo: chinesedaily

Commenting on the high cost of living in China is a fair observation, until you consider the higher cost of dying in the world’s most populous country. Even though the Asian tiger has seen a spike in the cost of homes due to the ever increasing demand over the past few years, increases in the cost of dead space has more than doubled that of housing.

The country’s largest publicly traded operator of cemeteries and funeral facilities Fu Shou Yuan International Group Ltd., told Bloomberg that the price of a graveyard had surpassed home prices since 2018. The development has led to a growth in the company’s stock. So far this year, the company sold 6,214 graves across China in the first six months with the average unit price rising 7 percent year-on-year.

Data from the death care service provider shows that the cost of an average burial plot has soared 41% to $14,800 since mid-2015, compared to a growth of 23% in home prices according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics.

In 2017, it cost $8,260 per square meter average to buy a house in China’s most expensive housing market, Shenzen. However, that was nothing compared to the cost of graveside real estate which was priced at $16,540 in the same year.

Hao Hong, a chief strategist at Bocom International Holdings, told Bloomberg that due to limited supply, some people have resorted to buying flats for the purpose of storing the remains of dead relatives because it is a cheaper alternative.

Yet the demand is modest by global standards considering World Bank data which shows that at current rates, China’s crude death rate per 1000 heads per year has dropped to just 7 from 25 in 1960, compared to the global average of 8 per 1000 according to ecology.

China’s population was estimated to be 1.386 billion in 2017 by the World Bank, implying that about 9.7 million people required burial space in that year alone.