Death Cheaper Than Birth?

If you were in a position to choose, death would be a more cost effective option then birth. Still, money is not everything.

According to an analysis of costs connected with giving birth and those connected with funerals, it seems that in Croatia it is much more affordable to die than to live, report on May 9, 2017.

Reports compared prices in Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik, Karlovac, Rijeka and Varaždin. The total amount needed for the first year of the life of a baby included crib, mattress, stroller, diapers, damp wipes and similar supplies. Regarding funerals, prices of a basic funeral without the cost of a grave were compared.

Zagreb is, as expected, the most expensive town to be born in. For the first child, the city grants 1,800 kuna to the family, but spending on a baby in the first year is about 10,500 kuna. The 10,500 kuna includes a crib up to 1,000 kuna, a mattress of about 300 kuna, and strollers can be found for 2,000 kuna. Diapers cost about 3,600 kuna per year, and the similar amount must be spent for baby hygiene supplies.

Split is 500 kuna more generous compared to Zagreb and gives parents 2,000 kuna for their first child. Expenses in the first year are somewhat lower and amount to about 10,000 kuna. In Dubrovnik, the first year of life costs about 9,500 kuna. The town authorities pay 1,500 kuna for the first child. In Karlovac, parents receive only 1,000 kuna for the first child, and in the first year they spend about 8,800 kuna on the most basic necessities. Rijeka gives 1,500 kuna per child, and parents spend about 7,600 kuna in the first 12 months. The most cost effective town is Varaždin. The town pays 2,000 kuna per child, and the annual costs are only 6,400 kuna.

The costs of a birth mentioned here do not include the price of food, because it is more or less the same in all the towns.

On the other hand, in Varaždin you will have to spend at least 5,050 kuna on a funeral. This is the minimum price of the burial service itself, which includes coffins, flowers, death notice and burial music. There is no grave site included in this price. The minimum price of burials in Zagreb and Split is about 5,500 kuna.

Prices in all towns increase substantially if a grave has to be bought. If you buy it at the last minute, the price will be even higher, and the final amount also depends on whether you are planning to buy a regular grave or a concrete tomb. Prices of graves are roughly the same, ranging from 1,000 to 4,500 kuna, except in Rijeka, where residents living in the town for more than 15 years get them for free. Stone tombs are more expensive, but can take in more coffins. The cheapest tomb at Zagreb's Mirogoj Cemetery is 80,000 kuna. In Split, a similar tomb costs about 12,000 kuna, while in Varaždin a partially concrete tomb costs up to 20,000 kuna. The burial itself is cheapest in Dubrovnik, where it costs around 5,000 kuna. At the town cemetery in Karlovac, a burial is 5,400 kuna, while in Rijeka it is 5,280 kuna.

Still, you can save a lot on a burial if you are a member of a burial society. The whole system is based on the principle of solidarity. For a monthly installment of 40 kuna, after several years of paying into the system you have a right to a standardised funeral and certain items of funeral necessities which can be obtained at considerably lower prices than the market.

The main reason as to why graves are so expensive is the fact that cemeteries do not have anywhere to expand, because they are surrounded by residential areas. Unfortunately, that will not change soon, and the price of graves will surely grow even higher.

If you are not one of the lucky ones who has inherited a grave site from a family member, then you must prepare for death, just like you would prepare for having a child. The best option is to pay in a burial society. Otherwise, you should think about buying a grave as soon as possible because, as already mentioned, prices in the near future will certainly not decrease. Cemeteries in Zagreb have recently raised the cost of burial by 500 kuna, which is a problem for many people, who often do not have even 70 kuna to pay for a fee needed to report someone’s death.

Demographer Stjepan Šterc agrees that the state must focus on one of the biggest problems today - a large drop in birth rates. “In recent tax reform, the state has decided to cut VAT on coffins, which shocked everybody because it is hard to believe that they are more interested in dealing with death than with life,” said Šterc.

Today it is difficult for many to find money for a decent burial, let alone to have a family. In order to save some money, people select the most basic options for funerals. “Since 2009, there have been fewer and fewer extras at funerals. People save most on flowers, the music and death notices in the newspapers, and will now probably save even more,” said Srđan Juričev, a funeral director.

Still, despite the higher costs, if we were able to choose, we would select life over death anytime.