# \$20 in 1959 is worth \$209.42 in 2023

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## Value of \$20 from 1959 to 2023

\$20 in 1959 is equivalent in purchasing power to about \$209.42 in 2023, an increase of \$189.42 over 64 years. The dollar had an average inflation rate of 3.74% per year between 1959 and 2023, producing a cumulative price increase of 947.09%.

This means that prices in 2023 are 10.47 times as high as average prices since 1959, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index.

The inflation rate in 1959 was 0.69%. The inflation rate in 2023 was 4.12%. The 2023 inflation rate is higher compared to the average inflation rate of 3.07% per year between 2023 and 2024.

 Cumulative price change 947.09% Average inflation rate 3.74% Converted amount\$20 base \$209.42 Price difference\$20 base \$189.42 CPI in 1959 29.100 CPI in 2023 304.702 Inflation in 1959 0.69% Inflation in 2023 4.12% \$20 in 1959 \$209.42 in 2023

USD inflation since 1959
Annual Rate, the Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI

## Buying power of \$20 in 1959

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for \$20 in 1959 (price index tracking began in 1635).

For example, if you started with \$20, you would need to end with \$209.42 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When \$20 is equivalent to \$209.42 over time, that means that the "real value" of a single U.S. dollar decreases over time. In other words, a dollar will pay for fewer items at the store.

This effect explains how inflation erodes the value of a dollar over time. By calculating the value in 1959 dollars, the chart below shows how \$20 is worth less over 64 years.

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:

Dollar inflation: 1959-2023
YearDollar ValueInflation Rate
1959\$20.000.69%
1960\$20.341.72%
1961\$20.551.01%
1962\$20.761.00%
1963\$21.031.32%
1964\$21.311.31%
1965\$21.651.61%
1966\$22.272.86%
1967\$22.963.09%
1968\$23.924.19%
1969\$25.225.46%
1970\$26.675.72%
1971\$27.844.38%
1972\$28.733.21%
1973\$30.526.22%
1974\$33.8811.04%
1975\$36.989.13%
1976\$39.115.76%
1977\$41.656.50%
1978\$44.817.59%
1979\$49.9011.35%
1980\$56.6313.50%
1981\$62.4710.32%
1982\$66.326.16%
1983\$68.453.21%
1984\$71.414.32%
1985\$73.953.56%
1986\$75.331.86%
1987\$78.083.65%
1988\$81.314.14%
1989\$85.224.82%
1990\$89.835.40%
1991\$93.614.21%
1992\$96.433.01%
1993\$99.312.99%
1994\$101.862.56%
1995\$104.742.83%
1996\$107.842.95%
1997\$110.312.29%
1998\$112.031.56%
1999\$114.502.21%
2000\$118.353.36%
2001\$121.722.85%
2002\$123.641.58%
2003\$126.462.28%
2004\$129.832.66%
2005\$134.233.39%
2006\$138.563.23%
2007\$142.502.85%
2008\$147.973.84%
2009\$147.45-0.36%
2010\$149.871.64%
2011\$154.603.16%
2012\$157.802.07%
2013\$160.111.46%
2014\$162.711.62%
2015\$162.900.12%
2016\$164.951.26%
2017\$168.472.13%
2018\$172.672.49%
2019\$175.711.76%
2020\$177.881.23%
2021\$186.234.70%
2022\$201.148.00%
2023\$209.424.12%
2024\$215.853.07%*
* Compared to previous annual rate. Not final. See inflation summary for latest 12-month trailing value.
Click to show 58 more rows

This conversion table shows various other 1959 amounts in 2023 dollars, based on the 947.09% change in prices:

Conversion: 1959 dollars in 2023
Initial valueEquivalent value
\$1 dollar in 1959\$10.47 dollars in 2023
\$5 dollars in 1959\$52.35 dollars in 2023
\$10 dollars in 1959\$104.71 dollars in 2023
\$50 dollars in 1959\$523.54 dollars in 2023
\$100 dollars in 1959\$1,047.09 dollars in 2023
\$500 dollars in 1959\$5,235.43 dollars in 2023
\$1,000 dollars in 1959\$10,470.86 dollars in 2023
\$5,000 dollars in 1959\$52,354.32 dollars in 2023
\$10,000 dollars in 1959\$104,708.65 dollars in 2023
\$50,000 dollars in 1959\$523,543.24 dollars in 2023
\$100,000 dollars in 1959\$1,047,086.48 dollars in 2023
\$500,000 dollars in 1959\$5,235,432.42 dollars in 2023
\$1,000,000 dollars in 1959\$10,470,864.83 dollars in 2023

## Inflation by City

Inflation can vary widely by city, even within the United States. Here's how some cities fared in 1959 to 2023 (figures shown are purchasing power equivalents of \$20):

San Francisco, California experienced the highest rate of inflation during the 64 years between 1959 and 2023 (3.98%).

Chicago, Illinois experienced the lowest rate of inflation during the 64 years between 1959 and 2023 (3.57%).

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 £20.00 in 1959 would be equivalent to £561.29 in 2023, an absolute change of £541.29 and a cumulative change of 2,706.47%.

In Canada, CA\$20.00 in 1959 would be equivalent to CA\$204.78 in 2023, an absolute change of CA\$184.78 and a cumulative change of 923.91%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of \$189.42 and total percent change of 947.09%.

## Inflation by Spending Category

CPI is the weighted combination of many categories of spending that are tracked by the government. Breaking down these categories helps explain the main drivers behind price changes.

This chart shows the average rate of inflation for select CPI categories between 1959 and 2023.

Compare these values to the overall average of 3.74% per year:

CategoryAvg Inflation (%)Total Inflation (%)\$20 in 1959 → 2023
Food and beverages4.031,157.05251.41
Housing4.271,353.26290.65
Apparel1.68190.0358.01
Transportation3.49796.13179.23
Medical care5.192,454.79510.96
Recreation1.36137.6247.52
Education and communication1.78209.7161.94
Other goods and services5.002,163.61452.72

The graph below compares inflation in categories of goods over time. Click on a category such as "Food" to toggle it on or off:

For all these visualizations, it's important to note that not all categories may have been tracked since 1959. This table and charts use the earliest available data for each category.

## How to calculate inflation rate for \$20, 1959 to 2023

Our calculations use the following inflation rate formula to calculate the change in value between 1959 and 2023:

CPI in 2023 CPI in 1959
×
1959 USD value
=
2023 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 29.1 in the year 1959 and 304.70216666667 in 2023:

304.7021666666729.1
×
\$20
=
\$209.42

\$20 in 1959 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as \$209.42 in 2023.

To get the total inflation rate for the 64 years between 1959 and 2023, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2023 - CPI in 1959CPI in 1959
×
100
=
Cumulative inflation rate (64 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

304.70216666667 - 29.129.1
×
100
=
947%

## Alternate Measurements of Inflation

There are multiple ways to measure inflation. Published rates of inflation will vary depending on methodology. The Consumer Price Index, used above, is the most common standard used globally.

Alternative measurements are sometimes used based on context and economic/political circumstances. Below are a few examples of alternative measurements.

### Core Inflation

Also of note is the Core CPI, which uses the standard CPI but omits the more volatile categories of food and energy.

Core inflation averaged 3.70% per year between 1959 and 2023 (vs all-CPI inflation of 3.74%), for an inflation total of 921.65%. In 1959, core inflation was 2.00%.

When using the core inflation measurement, \$20 in 1959 is equivalent in buying power to \$204.33 in 2023, a difference of \$184.33. Recall that the converted amount is \$209.42 when all items including food and energy are measured.

## Comparison to S&P 500 Index

The average inflation rate of 3.74% has a compounding effect between 1959 and 2023. As noted above, this yearly inflation rate compounds to produce an overall price difference of 947.09% over 64 years.

To help put this inflation into perspective, if we had invested \$20 in the S&P 500 index in 1959, our investment would be nominally worth approximately \$10,912.63 in 2023. This is a return on investment of 54,463.13%, with an absolute return of \$10,892.63 on top of the original \$20.

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 90.45% of returns (\$9,870.44) during this period. This means the inflation-adjusted real return of our \$20 investment is \$1,022.19. You may also want to account for capital gains tax, which would take your real return down to around \$869 for most people.

Investment in S&P 500 Index, 1959-2023
Original AmountFinal AmountChange
Nominal\$20\$10,912.6354,463.13%
Real
\$20\$1,042.195,110.95%

Information displayed above may differ slightly from other S&P 500 calculators. Minor discrepancies can occur because we use the latest CPI data for inflation, annualized inflation numbers for previous years, and we compute S&P price and dividends from January of 1959 to latest available data for 2023 using average monthly close price.

For more details on the S&P 500 between 1959 and 2023, see the stock market returns calculator.

## Data source & citation

Raw data for these calculations comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (CPI), established in 1913. Price index data from 1774 to 1912 is sourced from a historical study conducted by political science professor Robert Sahr at Oregon State University and from the American Antiquarian Society. Price index data from 1634 to 1773 is from the American Antiquarian Society, using British pound equivalents.

You may use the following MLA citation for this page: “\$20 in 1959 → 2023 | Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 18 Jun. 2024, https://www.officialdata.org/1959-dollars-in-2023?amount=20.

Special thanks to QuickChart for their chart image API, which is used for chart downloads.

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

#### About the author

Ian Webster is an engineer and data expert based in San Mateo, California. He has worked for Google, NASA, and consulted for governments around the world on data pipelines and data analysis. Disappointed by the lack of clear resources on the impacts of inflation on economic indicators, Ian believes this website serves as a valuable public tool. Ian earned his degree in Computer Science from Dartmouth College.

 Cumulative price change 947.09% Average inflation rate 3.74% Converted amount\$20 base \$209.42 Price difference\$20 base \$189.42 CPI in 1959 29.100 CPI in 2023 304.702 Inflation in 1959 0.69% Inflation in 2023 4.12% \$20 in 1959 \$209.42 in 2023