U.S. inflation rate in 1900: 1.20%

Inflation Calculator

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Inflation in 1900 and Its Effect on Dollar Value

Purchasing power decreased by 1.20% in 1900 compared to 1899. On average, you would have to spend 1.20% more money in 1900 than in 1899 for the same item.

In other words, $1 in 1899 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $1.01 in 1900.

The 1899 inflation rate was 0.00%. The inflation rate in 1900 was 1.20%. The 1900 inflation rate is lower compared to the average inflation rate of 2.91% per year between 1900 and 2019.

Inflation rate is calculated by change in the consumer price index (CPI). The CPI in 1900 was 8.40. It was 8.30 in the previous year, 1899. The difference in CPI between the years is used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to officially determine inflation.

Inflation from 1899 to 1900
Average inflation rate 1.20%
Converted amount ($1 base) $1.01
Price difference ($1 base) $0.01
CPI in 1899 8.300
CPI in 1900 8.400
Inflation in 1899 0.00%
Inflation in 1900 1.20%

U.S. inflation chart since 1665

Inflation by Country

Inflation can also vary widely by country. For comparison, in the UK £1.00 in 1899 would be equivalent to £1.05 in 1900, an absolute change of £0.05 and a cumulative change of 4.55%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $0.01 and total percent change of 1.20%.

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 1899 and 1900.

Compare these values to the overall average of 1.20% per year:

Category Avg Inflation (%) Total Inflation (%) $1 in 1899 → 1900
Food 0.00 0.00 1.00
Shelter 0.00 0.00 1.00
Energy 0.00 0.00 1.00
Apparel 0.00 0.00 1.00
New vehicles 0.00 0.00 1.00
Used cars and trucks 0.00 0.00 1.00
Transportation services 0.00 0.00 1.00
Medical care services 0.00 0.00 1.00
Medical care commodities 0.00 0.00 1.00

It's important to note that not all categories may be tracked since 1899. This table and visualization use the earliest available data for each category.

How to Calculate Inflation Rate for $1, 1899 to 1900

This inflation calculator uses the following inflation rate formula:

CPI in 1900CPI in 1899
1899 USD value
1900 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 8.3 in the year 1899 and 8.4 in 1900:


$1 in 1899 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $1.01 in 1900.

To get the total inflation rate for the 1 years between 1899 and 1900, we use the following formula:

CPI in 1900 - CPI in 1899CPI in 1899
Cumulative inflation rate (1 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

8.4 - 8.38.3

Comparison to S&P 500 Index

To help put this inflation into perspective, if we had invested $1 in the S&P 500 index in 1899, our investment would be nominally worth approximately $1.25 in 1900. This is a return on investment of 25.23%, with an absolute return of $0.25.

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 1.19% of returns ($0.00) during this period. This means the inflation-adjusted real return of our $1 investment is $0.25.

Investment in S&P 500 Index, 1899-1900
Original Amount Final Amount Change
Nominal $1 $1.25 25.23%
Inflation Adjusted
$1 $0.25 24.93%

News headlines from 1899

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

  • Aspirin is patented by Felix Hoffmann at Bayer Company.
  • The bicycle is patented frame by an African-American inventor Issac Johnson.
  • Boers defeat British forces in a Battle of Ladysmith, which leads to the Siege of Ladysmith.
  • 1902 Marie and Pierre Curie isolate the radioactive element of chlorine.
  • Abdulaziz Ibn Saud and his 40 men, take over the city of Riyadh, which marked the beginning of the Third Saudi State.
  • U.S. Court of Appeals rules that Thomas Edison did not invent the movie camera.

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: “Inflation Rate in 1900 | Inflation Calculator.” U.S. Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 24 Apr. 2019, https://www.officialdata.org/inflation-rate-in-1900.

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.