U.S. inflation rate in 1918: 17.97%

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Inflation in 1918 and Its Effect on Dollar Value

Purchasing power decreased by 17.97% in 1918 compared to the previous year, 1917. On average, you would have to spend 17.97% more money in 1918 than in 1917 for the same item.

In other words, $100 in 1917 is equivalent in purchasing power to $117.97 in 1918.

The 1917 inflation rate was 17.43%. The inflation rate in 1918 was 17.97%. The 1918 inflation rate is higher compared to the average inflation rate of 2.86% per year between 1918 and 2018.

Inflation rate is calculated by change in the consumer price index (CPI). The CPI in 1918 was 15.1. It was 12.8 in the previous year, 1917. The difference in CPI between the years is used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to officially determine inflation.


Inflation from 1917 to 1918
Average inflation rate 17.97%
Converted amount ($100 base) $117.97
Price difference ($100 base) $17.97
CPI in 1917 12.8
CPI in 1918 15.1
Inflation in 1917 17.43%
Inflation in 1918 17.97%


U.S. Inflation since 1913
Annual Rate, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI

Inflation by City

Inflation can vary widely by city, even within the United States. Here's how some cities fared in 1917 to 1918 (figures shown are purchasing power equivalents of $100):

Seattle, Washington experienced the highest rate of inflation during the 1 years between 1917 and 1918 (22.53%).

San Francisco, California experienced the lowest rate of inflation during the 1 years between 1917 and 1918 (16.53%).


Inflation by Country

Inflation can also vary widely by country. For comparison, in the UK £100.00 in 1917 would be equivalent to £122.09 in 1918, an absolute change of £22.09 and a cumulative change of 22.09%.

In Canada, CA$100.00 in 1917 would be equivalent to CA$113.25 in 1918, an absolute change of CA$13.25 and a cumulative change of 13.25%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $17.97 and total percent change of 17.97%.


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 1917 and 1918.

Compare these values to the overall average of 17.97% per year:

Category Avg Inflation (%) Total Inflation (%) $100 in 1917 → 1918
Food 15.11 15.11 115.11
Shelter 0.00 0.00 100.00
Energy 0.00 0.00 100.00
Apparel 39.39 39.39 139.39
New vehicles 0.00 0.00 100.00
Used cars and trucks 0.00 0.00 100.00
Transportation services 0.00 0.00 100.00
Medical care services 0.00 0.00 100.00
Medical care commodities 0.00 0.00 100.00

It's important to note that not all categories may be tracked since 1917. This table and visualization use the earliest available data for each category.



How to Calculate Inflation Rate for $100, 1917 to 1918

This inflation calculator uses the following inflation rate formula:

CPI in 1918CPI in 1917
×
1917 USD value
=
1918 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 12.8 in the year 1917 and 15.1 in 1918:

15.112.8
×
$100
=
$117.97

$100 in 1917 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $117.97 in 1918.

To get the total inflation rate for the 1 years between 1917 and 1918, we use the following formula:

CPI in 1918 - CPI in 1917CPI in 1917
×
100
=
Cumulative inflation rate (1 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

15.1 - 12.812.8
×
100
=
18%

Comparison to S&P 500 Index

To help put this inflation into perspective, if you had invested $100 in the S&P 500 index in 1917, your investment would be worth approximately $96.19 in 1918. This is a change of -3.81%.

This means the nominal return on a $100 investment is $-3.81, but inflation would eat into your real returns.

Inflation would account for 15.23% of your returns ($-0.58), for an inflation-adjusted real return of about $-3.23.


News headlines from 1917

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

  • The Russian "February Revolution" begins alongside protests celebrating Women's Day and St Petersburg riots.
  • Tsar Nicholas II abdicates, nominating his brother, Grand Duke Michael, to succeed him.
  • President Wilson asks US Congress to declare war against Germany.
  • Vladimir Lenin issues the "April Theses" appealing for Soviets to take power during Russian Revolution.
  • Leon Trotsky becomes chairman of the Petrograd Soviet after the Bolsheviks gain control.

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 1918 | Inflation Calculator.” U.S. Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 23 Oct. 2018, https://www.officialdata.org/inflation-rate-in-1918.

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


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