$1 in 1971 is worth $6.20 in 2018

Value of $1 from 1971 to 2018

$1 in 1971 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $6.20 in 2018, an increase of $5.20 over 47 years. The dollar had an average inflation rate of 3.96% per year between 1971 and 2018, producing a cumulative price increase of 520.32%.

This means that prices in 2018 are 6.20 times as high as average prices since 1971, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index.

The inflation rate in 1971 was 4.38%. The inflation rate in 2018 was 2.49%. The 2018 inflation rate is lower compared to the average inflation rate of 4.09% per year between 2018 and 2023.

Inflation from 1971 to 2018
Cumulative price change520.32%
Average inflation rate3.96%
Converted amount
$1 base
Price difference
$1 base
CPI in 197140.500
CPI in 2018251.230
Inflation in 19714.38%
Inflation in 20182.49%
$1 in 1971$6.20 in 2018

USD inflation since 1971
Annual Rate, the Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI

Buying power of $1 in 1971

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for $1 in 1971 (price index tracking began in 1635).

For example, if you started with $1, you would need to end with $6.20 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When $1 is equivalent to $6.20 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 1971 dollars, the chart below shows how $1 is worth less over 47 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: 1971-2018
YearDollar ValueInflation Rate
* Compared to previous annual rate. Not final. See inflation summary for latest 12-month trailing value.
Click to show 41 more rows

This conversion table shows various other 1971 amounts in 2018 dollars, based on the 520.32% change in prices:

Conversion: 1971 dollars in 2018
Initial valueEquivalent value
$1 dollar in 1971$6.20 dollars in 2018
$5 dollars in 1971$31.02 dollars in 2018
$10 dollars in 1971$62.03 dollars in 2018
$50 dollars in 1971$310.16 dollars in 2018
$100 dollars in 1971$620.32 dollars in 2018
$500 dollars in 1971$3,101.60 dollars in 2018
$1,000 dollars in 1971$6,203.21 dollars in 2018
$5,000 dollars in 1971$31,016.05 dollars in 2018
$10,000 dollars in 1971$62,032.10 dollars in 2018
$50,000 dollars in 1971$310,160.49 dollars in 2018
$100,000 dollars in 1971$620,320.99 dollars in 2018
$500,000 dollars in 1971$3,101,604.94 dollars in 2018
$1,000,000 dollars in 1971$6,203,209.88 dollars in 2018

Inflation by City

Inflation can vary widely by city, even within the United States. Here's how some cities fared in 1971 to 2018 (figures shown are purchasing power equivalents of $1):

San Francisco, California experienced the highest rate of inflation during the 47 years between 1971 and 2018 (4.33%).

Detroit, Michigan experienced the lowest rate of inflation during the 47 years between 1971 and 2018 (3.76%).

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 £1.00 in 1971 would be equivalent to £13.80 in 2018, an absolute change of £12.80 and a cumulative change of 1,279.90%.

In Canada, CA$1.00 in 1971 would be equivalent to CA$6.39 in 2018, an absolute change of CA$5.39 and a cumulative change of 538.71%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $5.20 and total percent change of 520.32%.

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 1971 and 2018.

Compare these values to the overall average of 3.96% per year:

CategoryAvg Inflation (%)Total Inflation (%)$1 in 1971 → 2018
Food and beverages3.93512.406.12
Medical care5.681,240.9613.41
Education and communication1.90142.082.42
Other goods and services5.09931.4010.31

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 1971. This table and charts use the earliest available data for each category.

How to calculate inflation rate for $1, 1971 to 2018

Our calculations use the following inflation rate formula to calculate the change in value between 1971 and 2018:

CPI in 2018 CPI in 1971
1971 USD value
2018 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 40.5 in the year 1971 and 251.23 in 2018:


$1 in 1971 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $6.20 in 2018.

To get the total inflation rate for the 47 years between 1971 and 2018, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2018 - CPI in 1971CPI in 1971
Cumulative inflation rate (47 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

251.23 - 40.540.5

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.

Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) Inflation

The PCE Price Index is the U.S. Federal Reserve's preferred measure of inflation, compiled by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. It measures the change in prices of goods and services purchased by consumers.

The PCE Price Index changed by 3.47% per year on average between 1971 and 2018. The total PCE inflation between these dates was 396.91%. In 1971, PCE inflation was 4.25%.

This means that the PCE Index equates $1 in 1971 with $4.97 in 2018, a difference of $3.97. Compare this to the standard CPI measurement, which equates $1 with $6.20. The PCE measured -123.41% inflation compared to standard CPI.

For more information on the difference between PCE and CPI, see this analysis provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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 3.90% per year between 1971 and 2018 (vs all-CPI inflation of 3.96%), for an inflation total of 502.65%. In 1971, core inflation was 4.69%.

When using the core inflation measurement, $1 in 1971 is equivalent in buying power to $6.03 in 2018, a difference of $5.03. Recall that the converted amount is $6.20 when all items including food and energy are measured.

Comparison to S&P 500 Index

The average inflation rate of 3.96% has a compounding effect between 1971 and 2018. As noted above, this yearly inflation rate compounds to produce an overall price difference of 520.32% over 47 years.

To help put this inflation into perspective, if we had invested $1 in the S&P 500 index in 1971, our investment would be nominally worth approximately $110.28 in 2018. This is a return on investment of 10,928.21%, with an absolute return of $109.28 on top of the original $1.

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 83.88% of returns ($92.50) during this period. This means the inflation-adjusted real return of our $1 investment is $16.78. You may also want to account for capital gains tax, which would take your real return down to around $14 for most people.

Investment in S&P 500 Index, 1971-2018
Original AmountFinal AmountChange
Inflation Adjusted

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 1971 to latest available data for 2018 using average monthly close price.

For more details on the S&P 500 between 1971 and 2018, 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: “$1 in 1971 → 2018 | Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 14 Sep. 2023, https://www.officialdata.org/1971-dollars-in-2018?amount=1.

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.

Ian Webster

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.

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Inflation from 1971 to 2018
Cumulative price change520.32%
Average inflation rate3.96%
Converted amount
$1 base
Price difference
$1 base
CPI in 197140.500
CPI in 2018251.230
Inflation in 19714.38%
Inflation in 20182.49%
$1 in 1971$6.20 in 2018