View $1 in 1850 → **2021**

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$1 in 1850 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $33.18 in 2020, an increase of $32.18 over 170 years. The dollar had an average inflation rate of 2.08% per year between 1850 and 2020, producing a cumulative price increase of 3,218.10%.

This means that prices in 2020 are 33.18 times higher than average prices since 1850, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index.

The 1850 inflation rate was 1.30%. The inflation rate in 2020 was 1.23%. The 2020 inflation rate is lower compared to the average inflation rate of 5.70% per year between 2020 and 2021.

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Cumulative price change | 3,218.10% |

Average inflation rate | 2.08% |

Converted amount ($1 base) | $33.18 |

Price difference ($1 base) | $32.18 |

CPI in 1850 | 7.800 |

CPI in 2020 | 258.812 |

Inflation in 1850 | 1.30% |

Inflation in 2020 | 1.23% |

$1 in 1850 | $33.18 in 2020 |

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for $1 in 1850 (price index tracking began in 1635).

For example, if you started with $1, you would need to end with $33.18 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When $1 is equivalent to $33.18 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 1850 dollars, the chart below shows how $1 is worth less over 170 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 1850 amounts in 2020 dollars, based on the 3,218.10% change in prices:

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

$1 dollar in 1850 | $33.18 dollars in 2020 |

$5 dollars in 1850 | $165.90 dollars in 2020 |

$10 dollars in 1850 | $331.81 dollars in 2020 |

$50 dollars in 1850 | $1,659.05 dollars in 2020 |

$100 dollars in 1850 | $3,318.10 dollars in 2020 |

$500 dollars in 1850 | $16,590.49 dollars in 2020 |

$1,000 dollars in 1850 | $33,180.98 dollars in 2020 |

$5,000 dollars in 1850 | $165,904.91 dollars in 2020 |

$10,000 dollars in 1850 | $331,809.83 dollars in 2020 |

$50,000 dollars in 1850 | $1,659,049.15 dollars in 2020 |

$100,000 dollars in 1850 | $3,318,098.29 dollars in 2020 |

$500,000 dollars in 1850 | $16,590,491.45 dollars in 2020 |

$1,000,000 dollars in 1850 | $33,180,982.91 dollars in 2020 |

Inflation can also vary widely by country. For comparison, in the UK £1.00 in 1850 would be equivalent to £137.13 in 2020, an absolute change of £136.13 and a cumulative change of 13,612.95%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $32.18 and total percent change of 3,218.10%.

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 1850 and 2020.

Compare these values to the overall average of 2.08% per year:

Category | Avg Inflation (%) | Total Inflation (%) | $1 in 1850 → 2020 |
---|---|---|---|

Food and beverages | 3.91 | 67,330.44 | 674.30 |

Housing | 4.19 | 107,949.45 | 1,080.49 |

Apparel | 1.95 | 2,580.98 | 26.81 |

Transportation | 3.17 | 20,002.89 | 201.03 |

Medical care | 4.73 | 258,677.22 | 2,587.77 |

Recreation | 1.11 | 548.32 | 6.48 |

Education and communication | 1.85 | 2,150.10 | 22.50 |

Other goods and services | 4.99 | 391,510.86 | 3,916.11 |

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 1850. 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 1850 and 2020:

CPI in 2020
CPI in 1850

×

1850 USD value

=

2020 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 7.8 in the year 1850 and 258.81166666667 in 2020:

258.811666666677.8

×

$1

=

$1 in 1850 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $33.18 in 2020.

To get the total inflation rate for the 170 years between 1850 and 2020, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2020 - CPI in 1850CPI in 1850

×

100

=

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

258.81166666667 - 7.87.8

×

100

=

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

- The first National Women's Rights Convention takes place in Wocester, Massachusetts.
- The California Exchange is opened.
- Britain blockades Piraeus, a Greek port.
- The HMS Investigator sets sail from Woolwich, England, becoming the first ship to explore the Northwest Passage.

Raw data for these calculations comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index (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: “$1 in 1850 → 2020 | Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 23 Sep. 2021, https://www.officialdata.org/us/inflation/1850?amount=1&endYear=2020.

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

Cumulative price change | 3,218.10% |

Average inflation rate | 2.08% |

Converted amount ($1 base) | $33.18 |

Price difference ($1 base) | $32.18 |

CPI in 1850 | 7.800 |

CPI in 2020 | 258.812 |

Inflation in 1850 | 1.30% |

Inflation in 2020 | 1.23% |

$1 in 1850 | $33.18 in 2020 |