To die in Beijing

The cost of a funeral in urban Beijing is getting out of hand. The average price is now around 80,000 yuan, almost $13,000. If you live in the countryside around Beijing, however, the cost is much lower, 22,750 yuan or around $3,660.

Why the wide divergence between town and country? The answer is that many more people die in the city and the available graveyard spaces are shrinking fast. And the price goes up and up. The per-metre cost of a burial space can often be several times more than for a living space.

Beijing’s municipal authorities are considering cutting the permitted grave space in half, from its current one square metre, to ease the over-crowding and perhaps bring down the cost.