$500 in 1971 → $3,162.26 in 2019

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$500 in 1971 → $3,162.26 in 2019

U.S. Inflation Rate, $500 in 1971 to 2019

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, today's prices in 2019 are 532.45% higher than average prices throughout 1971. The dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 3.92% per year during this period, meaning the real value of a dollar decreased.

In other words, $500 in 1971 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $3,162.26 in 2019, a difference of $2,662.26 over 48 years.

The 1971 inflation rate was 4.38%. The current inflation rate (2018 to 2019) is now 1.65%1. If this number holds, $500 today will be equivalent in buying power to $508.24 next year. The current inflation rate page gives more detail on the latest official inflation rates.


Inflation from 1971 to 2019
Cumulative price change 532.45%
Average inflation rate 3.92%
Converted amount ($500 base) $3,162.26
Price difference ($500 base) $2,662.26
CPI in 1971 40.500
CPI in 2019 256.143
Inflation in 1971 4.38%
Inflation in 2019 1.65%

USD Inflation since 1913
Annual Rate, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI
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Buying power of $500 in 1971

This chart shows calculation of buying power equivalence, often referred to as "the value of a dollar" over time for $500 in 1971 (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 Dollar Value Inflation Rate
1971 $500.00 4.38%
1972 $516.05 3.21%
1973 $548.15 6.22%
1974 $608.64 11.04%
1975 $664.20 9.13%
1976 $702.47 5.76%
1977 $748.15 6.50%
1978 $804.94 7.59%
1979 $896.30 11.35%
1980 $1,017.28 13.50%
1981 $1,122.22 10.32%
1982 $1,191.36 6.16%
1983 $1,229.63 3.21%
1984 $1,282.72 4.32%
1985 $1,328.40 3.56%
1986 $1,353.09 1.86%
1987 $1,402.47 3.65%
1988 $1,460.49 4.14%
1989 $1,530.86 4.82%
1990 $1,613.58 5.40%
1991 $1,681.48 4.21%
1992 $1,732.10 3.01%
1993 $1,783.95 2.99%
1994 $1,829.63 2.56%
1995 $1,881.48 2.83%
1996 $1,937.04 2.95%
1997 $1,981.48 2.29%
1998 $2,012.35 1.56%
1999 $2,056.79 2.21%
2000 $2,125.93 3.36%
2001 $2,186.42 2.85%
2002 $2,220.99 1.58%
2003 $2,271.60 2.28%
2004 $2,332.10 2.66%
2005 $2,411.11 3.39%
2006 $2,488.89 3.23%
2007 $2,559.78 2.85%
2008 $2,658.06 3.84%
2009 $2,648.60 -0.36%
2010 $2,692.05 1.64%
2011 $2,777.02 3.16%
2012 $2,834.49 2.07%
2013 $2,876.01 1.46%
2014 $2,922.67 1.62%
2015 $2,926.14 0.12%
2016 $2,963.05 1.26%
2017 $3,026.17 2.13%
2018 $3,100.08 2.44%
2019 $3,162.26 2.01%*
* Compared to previous annual rate. Not final. See inflation summary for latest 12-month trailing value.
Click to show 42 more rows

Inflation by City

Inflation can vary widely by city, even within the United States. Here's how some cities fared in 1971 to 2019 (figures shown are purchasing power equivalents of $500):

San Francisco, California experienced the highest rate of inflation during the 48 years between 1971 and 2019 (4.29%).

Detroit, Michigan experienced the lowest rate of inflation during the 48 years between 1971 and 2019 (3.69%).

Note that some locations showing 0% inflation may have not yet reported latest data.


Inflation by Country

Inflation can also vary widely by country. For comparison, in the UK £500.00 in 1971 would be equivalent to £7,008.89 in 2019, an absolute change of £6,508.89 and a cumulative change of 1,301.78%.

In Canada, CA$500.00 in 1971 would be equivalent to CA$3,131.46 in 2019, an absolute change of CA$2,631.46 and a cumulative change of 526.29%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $2,662.26 and total percent change of 532.45%.


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 1971 and 2019.

Compare these values to the overall average of 3.92% per year:

Category Avg Inflation (%) Total Inflation (%) $500 in 1971 → 2019
Food 3.94 538.21 3,191.03
Shelter 4.57 752.38 4,261.90
Energy 4.45 708.06 4,040.32
Apparel 1.50 103.94 1,019.71
New vehicles 1.04 64.44 822.18
Used cars and trucks 0.62 34.71 673.53
Transportation services 4.28 647.66 3,738.32
Medical care services 5.84 1,426.40 7,631.99
Medical care commodities 4.44 703.45 4,017.25

It's important to note that not all categories may be tracked since 1971. This table and visualization use the earliest available data for each category.



How to Calculate Inflation Rate for $500 since 1971

This inflation calculator uses the following inflation rate formula:

CPI in 2019CPI in 1971
×
1971 USD value
=
2019 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 40.5 in the year 1971 and 256.143 in 2019:

256.14340.5
×
$500
=
$3,162.26

$500 in 1971 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $3,162.26 in 2019.

To get the total inflation rate for the 48 years between 1971 and 2019, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2019 - CPI in 1971CPI in 1971
×
100
=
Cumulative inflation rate (48 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

256.143 - 40.540.5
×
100
=
532%

Alternate Measurements of Inflation

The above data describe the CPI for all items. Also of note is the Core CPI, which measures inflation for all items except for the more volatile categories of food and energy. Core inflation averaged 3.85% per year between 1971 and 2019 (vs all-CPI inflation of 3.92%), for an inflation total of 512.71%.

When using the core inflation measurement, $500 in 1971 is equivalent in buying power to $3,063.54 in 2019, a difference of $2,563.54. Recall that for All Items, the converted amount is $3,162.26 with a difference of $2,662.26.

In 1971, core inflation was 4.69%.


Comparison to S&P 500 Index

The average inflation rate of 3.92% has a compounding effect between 1971 and 2019. As noted above, this yearly inflation rate compounds to produce an overall price difference of 532.45% over 48 years.

To help put this inflation into perspective, if we had invested $500 in the S&P 500 index in 1971, our investment would be nominally worth approximately $63,543.64 in 2019. This is a return on investment of 12,608.73%, with an absolute return of $63,043.64.

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 84.19% of returns ($53,075.51) during this period. This means the inflation-adjusted real return of our $500 investment is $9,968.13.

Investment in S&P 500 Index, 1971-2019
Original Amount Final Amount Change
Nominal $500 $63,543.64 12,608.73%
Real
Inflation Adjusted
$500 $9,968.13 1,993.63%


News headlines from 1971

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

  • Idi Amin declares himself president of Uganda.
  • The Nasdaq Composite stock market index debuts with fifty companies and a starting value of 100.
  • Indian troops, aided by Bengali guerrillas under Mukti Bahini, are victorious over the Pakistan army, in the battle of Garibpur.

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: “$500 in 1971 → 2019 | Inflation Calculator.” U.S. Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 19 Jul. 2019, https://www.officialdata.org/1971-dollars-in-2019?amount=500.

Special thanks to QuickChart for providing downloadable chart images.

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


» Read more about inflation and investment.

Inflation from 1971 to 2019
Cumulative price change 532.45%
Average inflation rate 3.92%
Converted amount ($500 base) $3,162.26
Price difference ($500 base) $2,662.26
CPI in 1971 40.500
CPI in 2019 256.143
Inflation in 1971 4.38%
Inflation in 2019 1.65%
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