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Why are coffins cheaper in California

Written By: Jason Shafrin - Nov• 16•10

How occupational licensing affects the cost of goods and services:

After Hurricane Katrina leveled the pine forest that had been their sole source of income, Benedictine monks in Louisiana  wanted to support themselves by making and selling coffins. Unfortunately for the monks, in Louisiana only a licensed undertaker can sell coffins. It’s the law, enforced by the State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors, which is dominated by funeral industry members who no doubt benefit from the lack of competition.

In California, there is no such law and no regulatory board for the funeral industry to dominate. Instead, it is regulated by the State Department of Consumer Affairs. Coffins are available here through retailers, even online, moderating their prices.

From KQED’s Perspectives Series, Marsha Cohen, UC Hastings Law School Professor

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