$20,000 in 1900 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $651,350 today, an increase of $631,350.00 over 121 years. The dollar had an average inflation rate of 2.92% per year between 1900 and today, producing a cumulative price increase of 3,156.75%.

This means that today's prices are 32.57 times higher than average prices since 1900, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index. A dollar today only buys 3.07% of what it could buy back then.

The 1900 inflation rate was 1.20%. The current year-over-year inflation rate (2020 to 2021) is now 5.25%^{1}.
If this number holds, $20,000 today will be equivalent in buying power to $21,050.25 next year.
The current inflation rate page gives more detail on the latest inflation rates.

Contents

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Cumulative price change | 3,156.75% |

Average inflation rate | 2.92% |

Converted amount ($20,000 base) | $651,350 |

Price difference ($20,000 base) | $631,350.00 |

CPI in 1900 | 8.400 |

CPI in 2021 | 273.567 |

Inflation in 1900 | 1.20% |

Inflation in 2021 | 5.25% |

$20,000 in 1900 | $651,350 in 2021 |

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for $20,000 in 1900 (price index tracking began in 1635).

For example, if you started with $20,000, you would need to end with $651,350 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When $20,000 is equivalent to $651,350 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 1900 dollars, the chart below shows how $20,000 is worth less over 121 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:

This conversion table shows various other 1900 amounts in today's dollars, based on the 3,156.75% change in prices:

Initial value | Equivalent value |
---|---|

$1 dollar in 1900 | $32.57 dollars today |

$5 dollars in 1900 | $162.84 dollars today |

$10 dollars in 1900 | $325.68 dollars today |

$50 dollars in 1900 | $1,628.38 dollars today |

$100 dollars in 1900 | $3,256.75 dollars today |

$500 dollars in 1900 | $16,283.75 dollars today |

$1,000 dollars in 1900 | $32,567.50 dollars today |

$5,000 dollars in 1900 | $162,837.50 dollars today |

$10,000 dollars in 1900 | $325,675.00 dollars today |

$50,000 dollars in 1900 | $1,628,375.00 dollars today |

$100,000 dollars in 1900 | $3,256,750.00 dollars today |

$500,000 dollars in 1900 | $16,283,750.00 dollars today |

$1,000,000 dollars in 1900 | $32,567,500.00 dollars today |

Inflation can also vary widely by country. For comparison, in the UK £20,000.00 in 1900 would be equivalent to £2,521,632.47 in 2021, an absolute change of £2,501,632.47 and a cumulative change of 12,508.16%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $631,350.00 and total percent change of 3,156.75%.

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 1900 and 2021.

Compare these values to the overall average of 2.92% per year:

Category | Avg Inflation (%) | Total Inflation (%) | $20,000 in 1900 → 2021 |
---|---|---|---|

Food and beverages | 3.88 | 9,914.74 | 2,002,947.21 |

Housing | 4.16 | 13,749.33 | 2,769,866.17 |

Apparel | 1.95 | 936.15 | 207,229.12 |

Transportation | 3.26 | 4,771.84 | 974,367.33 |

Medical care | 4.69 | 25,424.87 | 5,104,974.24 |

Recreation | 1.13 | 287.68 | 77,535.92 |

Education and communication | 1.83 | 794.93 | 178,986.46 |

Other goods and services | 4.94 | 33,998.71 | 6,819,741.25 |

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 1900. This table and charts use the earliest available data for each category.

Our calculations use the following inflation rate formula to calculate the change in value between 1900 and today:

CPI today
CPI in 1900

×

1900 USD value

=

Today's value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 8.4 in the year 1900 and 273.567 in 2021:

273.5678.4

×

$20,000

=

$20,000 in 1900 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $651,350 in 2021.

To get the total inflation rate for the 121 years between 1900 and 2021, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2021 - CPI in 1900CPI in 1900

×

100

=

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

273.567 - 8.48.4

×

100

=

The average inflation rate of 2.92% has a compounding effect between 1900 and 2021. As noted above, this yearly inflation rate compounds to produce an overall price difference of 3,156.75% over 121 years.

To help put this inflation into perspective, if we had invested $20,000 in the S&P 500 index in 1900, our investment would be * nominally* worth approximately $2,058,212,747.00 in 2021. This is a return on investment of 10,290,963.73%, with an absolute return of $2,058,192,747.00 on top of the original $20,000.

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 96.93% of returns ($1,995,014,382.16) during this period. This means the inflation-adjusted * real* return of our $20,000 investment is $63,178,364.84. You may also want to account for capital gains tax, which would take your real return down to around $53,701,610 for most people.

Original Amount | Final Amount | Change | |
---|---|---|---|

Nominal |
$20,000 | $2,058,212,747.00 | 10,290,963.73% |

RealInflation Adjusted |
$20,000 | $63,198,364.84 | 315,891.82% |

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 1900 to latest available data for 2021 using average monthly close price.

For more details on the S&P 500 between 1900 and 2021, see the stock market returns calculator.

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

- Britain establishes the protectorates of Northern Nigeria and Southern Nigeria.
- America announces the Open Door Policy to promote trade with China.
- The US Congress passes the Currency Act, establishing the gold standard.
- Dutch botanist and geneticist Hugo de Vries rediscovers Mendel's law of genetics
- Under pressure from Japan, Korea denies Russia access to Masampo Port, leading to a war between Russia and Japan.

You may use the following MLA citation for this page: “$20,000 in 1900 → 2021 | Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 19 Sep. 2021, https://www.officialdata.org/us/inflation/1900?amount=20000&endYear=2021.

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.

Cumulative price change | 3,156.75% |

Average inflation rate | 2.92% |

Converted amount ($20,000 base) | $651,350 |

Price difference ($20,000 base) | $631,350.00 |

CPI in 1900 | 8.400 |

CPI in 2021 | 273.567 |

Inflation in 1900 | 1.20% |

Inflation in 2021 | 5.25% |

$20,000 in 1900 | $651,350 in 2021 |