$20,000 in 1878 → $504,878 in 2018

Inflation Calculator

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U.S. Inflation Rate, $20,000 in 1878 to 2018

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, prices in 2018 are 2,424.39% higher than prices in 1878. The dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 2.28% per year during this period.

In other words, $20,000 in 1878 is equivalent in purchasing power to $504,878 in 2018, a difference of $484,878.00 over 140 years.

The 1878 inflation rate was -4.76%. The current inflation rate (2017 to 2018) is now 2.28%1. If this number holds, $20,000 today will be equivalent to $20,455.39 next year. The current inflation rate page gives more detail on the latest official inflation rates.


Inflation from 1878 to 2018
Cumulative price change 2,424.39%
Average inflation rate 2.28%
Converted amount ($20,000 base) $504,878
Price difference ($20,000 base) $484,878.00
CPI in 1878 10.000
CPI in 2018 252.439
Inflation in 1878 -4.76%
Inflation in 2018 2.28%


U.S. inflation chart since 1665


Buying power of $20,000 since 1878

This chart shows calculations of buying power equivalence over time for $20,000 in 1878 (price index tracking began in 1635).

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, each of these USD amounts below is equal in terms of what it could buy at the time:

Year USD Value Inflation Rate
1878 $20,000.00 -4.76%
1879 $20,000.00 0.00%
1880 $20,400.00 2.00%
1881 $20,400.00 0.00%
1882 $20,400.00 0.00%
1883 $20,200.00 -0.98%
1884 $19,600.00 -2.97%
1885 $19,400.00 -1.02%
1886 $18,800.00 -3.09%
1887 $19,000.00 1.06%
1888 $19,000.00 0.00%
1889 $18,400.00 -3.16%
1890 $18,200.00 -1.09%
1891 $18,200.00 0.00%
1892 $18,200.00 0.00%
1893 $18,000.00 -1.10%
1894 $17,200.00 -4.44%
1895 $16,800.00 -2.33%
1896 $16,800.00 0.00%
1897 $16,600.00 -1.19%
1898 $16,600.00 0.00%
1899 $16,600.00 0.00%
1900 $16,800.00 1.20%
1901 $17,000.00 1.19%
1902 $17,200.00 1.18%
1903 $17,600.00 2.33%
1904 $17,800.00 1.14%
1905 $17,600.00 -1.12%
1906 $18,000.00 2.27%
1907 $18,800.00 4.44%
1908 $18,400.00 -2.13%
1909 $18,200.00 -1.09%
1910 $19,000.00 4.40%
1911 $19,000.00 0.00%
1912 $19,400.00 2.11%
1913 $19,800.00 2.06%
1914 $20,000.00 1.01%
1915 $20,200.00 1.00%
1916 $21,800.00 7.92%
1917 $25,600.00 17.43%
1918 $30,200.00 17.97%
1919 $34,600.00 14.57%
1920 $40,000.00 15.61%
1921 $35,800.00 -10.50%
1922 $33,600.00 -6.15%
1923 $34,200.00 1.79%
1924 $34,200.00 0.00%
1925 $35,000.00 2.34%
1926 $35,400.00 1.14%
1927 $34,800.00 -1.69%
1928 $34,200.00 -1.72%
1929 $34,200.00 0.00%
1930 $33,400.00 -2.34%
1931 $30,400.00 -8.98%
1932 $27,400.00 -9.87%
1933 $26,000.00 -5.11%
1934 $26,800.00 3.08%
1935 $27,400.00 2.24%
1936 $27,800.00 1.46%
1937 $28,800.00 3.60%
1938 $28,200.00 -2.08%
1939 $27,800.00 -1.42%
1940 $28,000.00 0.72%
1941 $29,400.00 5.00%
1942 $32,600.00 10.88%
1943 $34,600.00 6.13%
1944 $35,200.00 1.73%
1945 $36,000.00 2.27%
1946 $39,000.00 8.33%
1947 $44,600.00 14.36%
1948 $48,200.00 8.07%
1949 $47,600.00 -1.24%
1950 $48,200.00 1.26%
1951 $52,000.00 7.88%
1952 $53,000.00 1.92%
1953 $53,400.00 0.75%
1954 $53,800.00 0.75%
1955 $53,600.00 -0.37%
1956 $54,400.00 1.49%
1957 $56,200.00 3.31%
1958 $57,800.00 2.85%
1959 $58,200.00 0.69%
1960 $59,200.00 1.72%
1961 $59,800.00 1.01%
1962 $60,400.00 1.00%
1963 $61,200.00 1.32%
1964 $62,000.00 1.31%
1965 $63,000.00 1.61%
1966 $64,800.00 2.86%
1967 $66,800.00 3.09%
1968 $69,600.00 4.19%
1969 $73,400.00 5.46%
1970 $77,600.00 5.72%
1971 $81,000.00 4.38%
1972 $83,600.00 3.21%
1973 $88,800.00 6.22%
1974 $98,600.00 11.04%
1975 $107,600.00 9.13%
1976 $113,800.00 5.76%
1977 $121,200.00 6.50%
1978 $130,400.00 7.59%
1979 $145,200.00 11.35%
1980 $164,800.00 13.50%
1981 $181,800.00 10.32%
1982 $193,000.00 6.16%
1983 $199,200.00 3.21%
1984 $207,800.00 4.32%
1985 $215,200.00 3.56%
1986 $219,200.00 1.86%
1987 $227,200.00 3.65%
1988 $236,600.00 4.14%
1989 $248,000.00 4.82%
1990 $261,400.00 5.40%
1991 $272,400.00 4.21%
1992 $280,600.00 3.01%
1993 $289,000.00 2.99%
1994 $296,400.00 2.56%
1995 $304,800.00 2.83%
1996 $313,800.00 2.95%
1997 $321,000.00 2.29%
1998 $326,000.00 1.56%
1999 $333,200.00 2.21%
2000 $344,400.00 3.36%
2001 $354,200.00 2.85%
2002 $359,800.00 1.58%
2003 $368,000.00 2.28%
2004 $377,800.00 2.66%
2005 $390,600.00 3.39%
2006 $403,200.00 3.23%
2007 $414,684.00 2.85%
2008 $430,606.00 3.84%
2009 $429,074.00 -0.36%
2010 $436,112.00 1.64%
2011 $449,878.00 3.16%
2012 $459,188.00 2.07%
2013 $465,914.00 1.46%
2014 $473,472.00 1.62%
2015 $474,034.00 0.12%
2016 $480,014.00 1.26%
2017 $490,240.00 2.13%
2018 $504,878.00 2.99%*
* Compared to previous annual rate. Not final. See inflation summary for latest 12-month trailing value.

Inflation by Country

Inflation can also vary widely by country. For comparison, in the UK £20,000.00 in 1878 would be equivalent to £2,312,151.28 in 2018, an absolute change of £2,292,151.28 and a cumulative change of 11,460.76%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $484,878.00 and total percent change of 2,424.39%.


Inflation by Spending Category

CPI is the weighted combination of many categories of spending that are tracked by the government. This chart shows the average rate of inflation for select CPI categories between 1878 and 2018.

Compare these values to the overall average of 2.28% per year:

Category Avg Inflation (%) Total Inflation (%) $20,000 in 1878 → 2018
Food 3.13 7,411.80 1,502,359.97
Shelter 4.10 27,680.73 5,556,145.47
Energy 3.88 20,666.22 4,153,244.20
Apparel 2.05 1,621.39 344,278.55
New vehicles 1.05 333.93 86,785.32
Used cars and trucks 0.61 135.61 47,122.63
Transportation services 3.35 9,912.37 2,002,473.49
Medical care services 5.11 106,711.99 21,362,397.88
Medical care commodities 4.29 35,521.10 7,124,220.06

It's important to note that not all categories may be tracked since 1878. This table and visualization use the earliest available data for each category.



How to Calculate Inflation Rate for $20,000 since 1878

This inflation calculator uses the following inflation rate formula:

CPI in 2018CPI in 1878
×
1878 USD value
=
2018 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 10 in the year 1878 and 252.439 in 2018:

252.43910
×
$20,000
=
$504,878

$20,000 in 1878 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $504,878 in 2018.

To get the total inflation rate for the 140 years between 1878 and 2018, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2018 - CPI in 1878CPI in 1878
×
100
=
Cumulative inflation rate (140 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

252.439 - 1010
×
100
=
2,424%

Comparison to S&P 500 Index

The average inflation rate of 2.28% has a compounding effect between 1878 and 2018. As noted above, this yearly inflation rate compounds to produce an overall price difference of 2,424.39% over 140 years.

To help put this inflation into perspective, if we had invested $20,000 in the S&P 500 index in 1878, our investment would be nominally worth approximately $6,258,879,790.62 in 2018. This is a return on investment of 31,294,298.95%, with an absolute return of $6,258,859,790.62.

These numbers are not inflation adjusted, so they are considered nominal. In order to evaluate the real return on our investment, we must calculate the return with inflation taken into account.

The compounding effect of inflation would account for 96.04% of returns ($6,010,924,258.05) during this period. This means the inflation-adjusted real return of our $20,000 investment is $247,935,532.57.

Investment in S&P 500 Index, 1878-2018
Original Amount Final Amount Change
Nominal $20,000 $6,258,879,790.62 31,294,298.95%
Real
Inflation Adjusted
$20,000 $247,935,532.57 1,239,677.66%


News headlines from 1878

Politics and news often influence economic performance. Here's what was happening at the time:

  • Berlin Congress begins with goal to determine the territories of the states in the Balkans after the Russo-Turkish war.
  • King Leopold II's agent secretly meets Henry Morton Stanley.
  • Thomas Edison patents the gramophone.

Data Source & Citation

Raw data for these calculations comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (CPI), established in 1913. Inflation data from 1665 to 1912 is sourced from a historical study conducted by political science professor Robert Sahr at Oregon State University.

You may use the following MLA citation for this page: “$20,000 in 1878 → 2018 | Inflation Calculator.” U.S. Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 14 Nov. 2018, https://www.officialdata.org/1878-dollars-in-2018?amount=20000.

in2013dollars.com is a reference website maintained by the Official Data Foundation.


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