$100 in 1939 is worth $4,496.90 today

Why a dollar today is worth only 2% of a dollar in 1939

Updated: September 11, 2020

According to the Bureau of Statistics consumer price index, today's prices in 2020 are 4,396.90% higher than average prices since 1939. This means that a dollar today only buys 2.22% of what it could buy in 1939. The Australian dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 4.81% per year during this period, causing the real value of a dollar to decrease.

In other words, $100 in 1939 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $4,496.90 in 2020, a difference of $4,396.90 over 81 years.

The 1939 inflation rate was 0.00%. The current year-over-year inflation rate (2019 to 2020) is now 1.90%1. If this number holds, $100 today will be equivalent in buying power to $101.90 next year.


Inflation from 1939 to 2020
Cumulative price change 4,396.90%
Average inflation rate 4.81%
Converted amount ($100 base) $4,496.90
Price difference ($100 base) $4,396.90
CPI in 1939 2.600
CPI in 2020 116.919
Inflation in 1939 0.00%
Inflation in 2020 1.90%

AUD Inflation since 1922
Annual Rate, the Bureau of Statistics CPI
Download

Buying power of $100 in 1939

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for $100 in 1939 (price index tracking began in 1922).

For example, if you started with $100, you would need to end with $4,496.90 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When $100 is equivalent to $4,496.90 over time, that means that the "real value" of a single Australian 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 1939 dollars, the chart below shows how $100 is worth less over 81 years.

According to the Bureau of Statistics, each of these AUD amounts below is equal in terms of what it could buy at the time:

Dollar inflation: 1939-2020
Year Dollar Value Inflation Rate
1939 $100.00 -
1940 $103.85 3.85%
1941 $107.69 3.70%
1942 $119.23 10.71%
1943 $123.08 3.23%
1944 $123.08 0.00%
1945 $123.08 0.00%
1946 $123.08 0.00%
1947 $130.77 6.25%
1948 $142.31 8.82%
1949 $153.85 8.11%
1950 $169.23 10.00%
1951 $200.00 18.18%
1952 $234.62 17.31%
1953 $246.15 4.92%
1954 $250.00 1.56%
1955 $253.85 1.54%
1956 $269.23 6.06%
1957 $276.92 2.86%
1958 $276.92 0.00%
1959 $284.62 2.78%
1960 $296.15 4.05%
1961 $300.00 1.30%
1962 $300.00 0.00%
1963 $303.85 1.28%
1964 $311.54 2.53%
1965 $323.08 3.70%
1966 $330.77 2.38%
1967 $342.31 3.49%
1968 $353.85 3.37%
1969 $365.38 3.26%
1970 $376.92 3.16%
1971 $400.00 6.12%
1972 $423.08 5.77%
1973 $461.54 9.09%
1974 $534.62 15.83%
1975 $615.38 15.11%
1976 $696.15 13.13%
1977 $780.77 12.15%
1978 $842.31 7.88%
1979 $919.23 9.13%
1980 $1,015.38 10.46%
1981 $1,111.54 9.47%
1982 $1,234.62 11.07%
1983 $1,361.54 10.28%
1984 $1,415.38 3.95%
1985 $1,507.69 6.52%
1986 $1,646.15 9.18%
1987 $1,784.62 8.41%
1988 $1,915.38 7.33%
1989 $2,057.69 7.43%
1990 $2,211.54 7.48%
1991 $2,280.77 3.13%
1992 $2,303.85 1.01%
1993 $2,342.31 1.67%
1994 $2,388.46 1.97%
1995 $2,500.00 4.67%
1996 $2,565.38 2.62%
1997 $2,573.08 0.30%
1998 $2,592.31 0.75%
1999 $2,630.77 1.48%
2000 $2,750.00 4.53%
2001 $2,869.23 4.34%
2002 $2,957.69 3.08%
2003 $3,038.46 2.73%
2004 $3,107.69 2.28%
2005 $3,192.31 2.72%
2006 $3,303.85 3.49%
2007 $3,380.77 2.33%
2008 $3,530.77 4.44%
2009 $3,592.31 1.74%
2010 $3,696.15 2.89%
2011 $3,819.23 3.33%
2012 $3,884.62 1.71%
2013 $3,980.77 2.48%
2014 $4,080.77 2.51%
2015 $4,142.31 1.51%
2016 $4,196.15 1.30%
2017 $4,276.92 1.92%
2018 $4,330.77 1.26%
2019 $4,413.05 1.90%
2020 $4,496.90 1.90%*
* Compared to previous annual rate. Not final. See inflation summary for latest 12-month trailing value.
Click to show 75 more rows

This conversion table shows various other 1939 amounts in today's dollars, based on the 4,396.90% change in prices:

Conversion Table: Value of a dollar today
Initial value Equivalent value
$1 dollar in 1939 $44.97 dollars today
$5 dollars in 1939 $224.85 dollars today
$10 dollars in 1939 $449.69 dollars today
$50 dollars in 1939 $2,248.45 dollars today
$100 dollars in 1939 $4,496.90 dollars today
$500 dollars in 1939 $22,484.51 dollars today
$1,000 dollars in 1939 $44,969.02 dollars today
$5,000 dollars in 1939 $224,845.09 dollars today
$10,000 dollars in 1939 $449,690.19 dollars today
$50,000 dollars in 1939 $2,248,450.93 dollars today
$100,000 dollars in 1939 $4,496,901.87 dollars today
$500,000 dollars in 1939 $22,484,509.35 dollars today
$1,000,000 dollars in 1939 $44,969,018.69 dollars today

How to Calculate Inflation Rate for $100 since 1939

Our calculations use the following inflation rate formula to calculate the change in value between 1939 and today:

CPI today CPI in 1939
×
1939 AUD value
=
Today's value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The Australian CPI was 2.6 in the year 1939 and 116.91944859999998 in 2020:

116.919448599999982.6
×
$100
=
$4,496.90

$100 in 1939 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $4,496.90 in 2020.

To get the total inflation rate for the 81 years between 1939 and 2020, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2020 - CPI in 1939CPI in 1939
×
100
=
Cumulative inflation rate (81 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

116.91944859999998 - 2.62.6
×
100
=
4,397%

News headlines from 1939

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

  • Hitler makes a speech to the German Reichstag where he threatens Jews.
  • Mahatma Gandhi begins his fast in protest against Britain’s autocratic rule in India
  • The Battle of Nanchang takes place between the Kuomintang ant the Japanese, during Sino-Japanese War.
  • The Spanish Civil War ends when Madrid falls to Francisco Franco.
  • Britain and France declare war on Germany after it invades Poland, signaling the start of World War II.
  • Mussolini’s Italy joins Hitler's war against Great Britain and France.
  • Winston Churchill is named British Prime Minister, succeeding Neville Chamberlain.
  • Nazi blitzkrieg conquest of France begins when the Germans cross the Muese River.
  • Auschwitz concentration camp is opened in Nazi-controlled Poland.

Data Source & Citation

Raw data for these calculations comes from the government of Australia's annual (CPI) as provided by the Reserve Bank of Australia. The consumer price index was established in 1922 and is tracked by Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

You may use the following MLA citation for this page: “Value of 1939 dollars today | Australia Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 18 Sep. 2020, https://www.officialdata.org/australia/inflation/1939.

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 1939 to 2020
Cumulative price change 4,396.90%
Average inflation rate 4.81%
Converted amount ($100 base) $4,496.90
Price difference ($100 base) $4,396.90
CPI in 1939 2.600
CPI in 2020 116.919
Inflation in 1939 0.00%
Inflation in 2020 1.90%