$100 in 1950 is worth $1,080 today

Why a dollar today is worth only 9% of a dollar in 1950

Updated: October 13, 2020

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, today's prices in 2020 are 980.00% higher than average prices since 1950. This means that a dollar today only buys 9.26% of what it could buy in 1950. The U.S. dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 3.46% per year during this period, causing the real value of a dollar to decrease.

In other words, $100 in 1950 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $1,080 in 2020, a difference of $980.00 over 70 years.

The 1950 inflation rate was 1.26%. The current year-over-year inflation rate (2019 to 2020) is now 1.37%1. If this number holds, $100 today will be equivalent in buying power to $101.37 next year. The current inflation rate page gives more detail on the latest official inflation rates.


Inflation from 1950 to 2020
Cumulative price change 980.00%
Average inflation rate 3.46%
Converted amount ($100 base) $1,080
Price difference ($100 base) $980.00
CPI in 1950 24.100
CPI in 2020 260.280
Inflation in 1950 1.26%
Inflation in 2020 1.37%

USD Inflation since 1913
Annual Rate, the Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI
Download

Buying power of $100 in 1950

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for $100 in 1950 (price index tracking began in 1635).

For example, if you started with $100, you would need to end with $1,080 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When $100 is equivalent to $1,080 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 1950 dollars, the chart below shows how $100 is worth less over 70 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: 1950-2020
Year Dollar Value Inflation Rate
1950 $100.00 1.26%
1951 $107.88 7.88%
1952 $109.96 1.92%
1953 $110.79 0.75%
1954 $111.62 0.75%
1955 $111.20 -0.37%
1956 $112.86 1.49%
1957 $116.60 3.31%
1958 $119.92 2.85%
1959 $120.75 0.69%
1960 $122.82 1.72%
1961 $124.07 1.01%
1962 $125.31 1.00%
1963 $126.97 1.32%
1964 $128.63 1.31%
1965 $130.71 1.61%
1966 $134.44 2.86%
1967 $138.59 3.09%
1968 $144.40 4.19%
1969 $152.28 5.46%
1970 $161.00 5.72%
1971 $168.05 4.38%
1972 $173.44 3.21%
1973 $184.23 6.22%
1974 $204.56 11.04%
1975 $223.24 9.13%
1976 $236.10 5.76%
1977 $251.45 6.50%
1978 $270.54 7.59%
1979 $301.24 11.35%
1980 $341.91 13.50%
1981 $377.18 10.32%
1982 $400.41 6.16%
1983 $413.28 3.21%
1984 $431.12 4.32%
1985 $446.47 3.56%
1986 $454.77 1.86%
1987 $471.37 3.65%
1988 $490.87 4.14%
1989 $514.52 4.82%
1990 $542.32 5.40%
1991 $565.15 4.21%
1992 $582.16 3.01%
1993 $599.59 2.99%
1994 $614.94 2.56%
1995 $632.37 2.83%
1996 $651.04 2.95%
1997 $665.98 2.29%
1998 $676.35 1.56%
1999 $691.29 2.21%
2000 $714.52 3.36%
2001 $734.85 2.85%
2002 $746.47 1.58%
2003 $763.49 2.28%
2004 $783.82 2.66%
2005 $810.37 3.39%
2006 $836.51 3.23%
2007 $860.34 2.85%
2008 $893.37 3.84%
2009 $890.20 -0.36%
2010 $904.80 1.64%
2011 $933.36 3.16%
2012 $952.67 2.07%
2013 $966.63 1.46%
2014 $982.31 1.62%
2015 $983.47 0.12%
2016 $995.88 1.26%
2017 $1,017.10 2.13%
2018 $1,042.45 2.49%
2019 $1,060.82 1.76%
2020 $1,080.00 1.81%*
* Compared to previous annual rate. Not final. See inflation summary for latest 12-month trailing value.
Click to show 64 more rows

This conversion table shows various other 1950 amounts in today's dollars, based on the 980.00% change in prices:

Conversion Table: Value of a dollar today
Initial value Equivalent value
$1 dollar in 1950 $10.80 dollars today
$5 dollars in 1950 $54.00 dollars today
$10 dollars in 1950 $108.00 dollars today
$50 dollars in 1950 $540.00 dollars today
$100 dollars in 1950 $1,080.00 dollars today
$500 dollars in 1950 $5,400.00 dollars today
$1,000 dollars in 1950 $10,800.00 dollars today
$5,000 dollars in 1950 $54,000.00 dollars today
$10,000 dollars in 1950 $108,000.00 dollars today
$50,000 dollars in 1950 $540,000.00 dollars today
$100,000 dollars in 1950 $1,080,000.00 dollars today
$500,000 dollars in 1950 $5,400,000.00 dollars today
$1,000,000 dollars in 1950 $10,800,000.00 dollars today

Inflation by City

Inflation can vary widely by city, even within the United States. Here's how some cities fared in 1950 to 2020 (figures shown are purchasing power equivalents of $100):

San Francisco, California experienced the highest rate of inflation during the 70 years between 1950 and 2020 (3.80%).

Detroit, Michigan experienced the lowest rate of inflation during the 70 years between 1950 and 2020 (3.29%).

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 £100.00 in 1950 would be equivalent to £3,449.22 in 2020, an absolute change of £3,349.22 and a cumulative change of 3,349.22%.

In Canada, CA$100.00 in 1950 would be equivalent to CA$1,057.36 in 2020, an absolute change of CA$957.36 and a cumulative change of 957.36%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $980.00 and total percent change of 980.00%.


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 1950 and 2020.

Compare these values to the overall average of 3.46% per year:

Category Avg Inflation (%) Total Inflation (%) $100 in 1950 → 2020
Food and beverages 3.90 1,355.39 1,455.39
Housing 4.19 1,668.93 1,768.93
Apparel 1.55 194.22 294.22
Transportation 3.16 784.86 884.86
Medical care 5.18 3,332.49 3,432.49
Recreation 1.10 114.67 214.67
Education and communication 1.84 258.29 358.29
Other goods and services 4.98 2,909.45 3,009.45

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 1950. This table and charts use the earliest available data for each category.



How to Calculate Inflation Rate for $100 since 1950

Our calculations use the following inflation rate formula to calculate the change in value between 1950 and today:

CPI today CPI in 1950
×
1950 USD value
=
Today's value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 24.1 in the year 1950 and 260.28 in 2020:

260.2824.1
×
$100
=
$1,080

$100 in 1950 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $1,080 in 2020.

To get the total inflation rate for the 70 years between 1950 and 2020, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2020 - CPI in 1950CPI in 1950
×
100
=
Cumulative inflation rate (70 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

260.28 - 24.124.1
×
100
=
980%

Comparison to S&P 500 Index

The average inflation rate of 3.46% has a compounding effect between 1950 and 2020. As noted above, this yearly inflation rate compounds to produce an overall price difference of 980.00% over 70 years.

To help put this inflation into perspective, if we had invested $100 in the S&P 500 index in 1950, our investment would be nominally worth approximately $185,290.64 in 2020. This is a return on investment of 185,190.64%, with an absolute return of $185,190.64 on top of the original $100.

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 90.74% of returns ($168,134.10) during this period. This means the inflation-adjusted real return of our $100 investment is $17,056.54. You may also want to account for capital gains tax, which would take your real return down to around $14,498 for most people.

Investment in S&P 500 Index, 1950-2020
Original Amount Final Amount Change
Nominal $100 $185,290.64 185,190.64%
Real
Inflation Adjusted
$100 $17,156.54 17,056.54%

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 1950 to latest available data for 2020 using average monthly close price.

For more details on the S&P 500 between 1950 and 2020, see the stock market returns calculator.


News headlines from 1950

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

  • Jerusalem is proclaimed the capital of Israel by Knesset
  • North Korea invades South Korea.
  • Harry Truman announces that America will seek to develop a hydrogen bomb.
  • Chinese forces occupy Tibet.

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: “Value of 1950 dollars today | Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 10 Nov. 2020, https://www.officialdata.org/us/inflation/1950.

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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» Read more about inflation and investment.

Inflation from 1950 to 2020
Cumulative price change 980.00%
Average inflation rate 3.46%
Converted amount ($100 base) $1,080
Price difference ($100 base) $980.00
CPI in 1950 24.100
CPI in 2020 260.280
Inflation in 1950 1.26%
Inflation in 2020 1.37%