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More French believe in reincarnation and less in heaven, hell, and resurrection.

A survey conducted in September 2023 by IFOP shows new trends in how people in France think about their own death, burial, and what they expect to find (or not) in another life.

According to the 1’013 people aged 18 or more that have been asked, only 31% believe in life after death, compared to 37% in 1970. Most of these (69%) identify with a certain faith, mainly Christianity.

One of the biggest changes is that more 32% of those who believe in an afterlife, believe it will be in the form or reincarnation (up from 22% in 2004). According to the survey, the typical profile of those who believe in reincarnation arepeople aged 25-34, Roman Catholics, with low income and with conservative socio-political views.

Less people believe in heaven and hell (32%, up from 30% in 1980), and resurrection (24%, down from 30% in 1980).

Cremation rather than burial
When it comes to funeral arrangements, in 2023 most French want to be cremated (50%), compared to who prefer 29% for burial. Most of those who opt for cremation are atheists (60%) over the age of 65. Among churchgoers, half (51%) still prefer burial.

Four in ten say the concern for the environment influences the choice of what to do with their dead body.

When those under 24 years old are asked, one in four prefers to be buried somewhere other than the cemetery.

Less interested in a religious ceremony
Another changing trend is that most French do not have a clear faith anymore, and therefore on longer want a religious ceremony. In 2008, 55% still opted for it, now only 40% would opt for it.

Among those aged 18 to 24, half (49%) want a civil ceremony that has no religious elements in it.

The young fear death most
Asked about the fear of death, nine in ten (88%) of the surveyed say they are anxious at the thought of losing a spouse, child, parent or friend.

In contrast, less than half of the respondents said they fear their own death. Although it is the youngest (18 to 24 years old) who are more anxious about their own end of life (59%).

The survey did not ask about euthanasia and assisted dying but the French government is readying a law to regulate these medically assisted terminations of life.

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Date published: 22/10/2023
Feature image: Image for illustrative purposes only. Artwork adapted from

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