$20 in 1968 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $158.96 today, an increase of $138.96 over 53 years. The dollar had an average inflation rate of 3.99% per year between 1968 and today, producing a cumulative price increase of 694.80%.

This means that today's prices are 7.95 times higher than average prices since 1968, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index. A dollar today only buys 12.58% of what it could buy back then.

The 1968 inflation rate was 4.19%. The current year-over-year inflation rate (2020 to 2021) is now 6.22%^{1}.
If this number holds, $20 today will be equivalent in buying power to $21.24 next year.
The current inflation rate page gives more detail on the latest inflation rates.

Contents

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Cumulative price change | 694.80% |

Average inflation rate | 3.99% |

Converted amount ($20 base) | $158.96 |

Price difference ($20 base) | $138.96 |

CPI in 1968 | 34.800 |

CPI in 2021 | 276.589 |

Inflation in 1968 | 4.19% |

Inflation in 2021 | 6.22% |

$20 in 1968 | $158.96 in 2021 |

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for $20 in 1968 (price index tracking began in 1635).

For example, if you started with $20, you would need to end with $158.96 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When $20 is equivalent to $158.96 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 1968 dollars, the chart below shows how $20 is worth less over 53 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 1968 amounts in today's dollars, based on the 694.80% change in prices:

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

$1 dollar in 1968 | $7.95 dollars today |

$5 dollars in 1968 | $39.74 dollars today |

$10 dollars in 1968 | $79.48 dollars today |

$50 dollars in 1968 | $397.40 dollars today |

$100 dollars in 1968 | $794.80 dollars today |

$500 dollars in 1968 | $3,973.98 dollars today |

$1,000 dollars in 1968 | $7,947.96 dollars today |

$5,000 dollars in 1968 | $39,739.80 dollars today |

$10,000 dollars in 1968 | $79,479.60 dollars today |

$50,000 dollars in 1968 | $397,397.99 dollars today |

$100,000 dollars in 1968 | $794,795.98 dollars today |

$500,000 dollars in 1968 | $3,973,979.89 dollars today |

$1,000,000 dollars in 1968 | $7,947,959.77 dollars today |

Inflation can vary widely by city, even within the United States. Here's how some cities fared in 1968 to 2021 (figures shown are purchasing power equivalents of $20):

**San Francisco, California**: 4.26% average rate, $20 → $182.28, cumulative change of 811.42%**Seattle, Washington**: 4.15% average rate, $20 → $172.41, cumulative change of 762.04%**Boston, Massachusetts**: 4.04% average rate, $20 → $163.22, cumulative change of 716.09%**New York**: 4.02% average rate, $20 → $161.51, cumulative change of 707.56%**Atlanta, Georgia**: 3.88% average rate, $20 → $150.68, cumulative change of 653.41%**Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas**: 3.88% average rate, $20 → $150.36, cumulative change of 651.82%**Philadelphia, Pennsylvania**: 3.84% average rate, $20 → $147.47, cumulative change of 637.36%**Houston, Texas**: 3.83% average rate, $20 → $146.72, cumulative change of 633.61%**Chicago, Illinois**: 3.81% average rate, $20 → $145.00, cumulative change of 625.01%**Detroit, Michigan**: 3.74% average rate, $20 → $140.30, cumulative change of 601.48%

San Francisco, California experienced the highest rate of inflation during the 53 years between 1968 and 2021 (4.26%).

Detroit, Michigan experienced the lowest rate of inflation during the 53 years between 1968 and 2021 (3.74%).

Note that some locations showing 0% inflation may have not yet reported latest data.

Inflation can also vary widely by country. For comparison, in the UK £20.00 in 1968 would be equivalent to £364.29 in 2021, an absolute change of £344.29 and a cumulative change of 1,721.47%.

In Canada, CA$20.00 in 1968 would be equivalent to CA$143.13 in 2021, an absolute change of CA$123.13 and a cumulative change of 615.63%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $138.96 and total percent change of 694.80%.

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 1968 and 2021.

Compare these values to the overall average of 3.99% per year:

Category | Avg Inflation (%) | Total Inflation (%) | $20 in 1968 → 2021 |
---|---|---|---|

Food and beverages | 3.90 | 659.20 | 151.84 |

Housing | 4.17 | 772.26 | 174.45 |

Apparel | 1.54 | 124.88 | 44.98 |

Transportation | 3.63 | 562.77 | 132.55 |

Medical care | 5.56 | 1,656.24 | 351.25 |

Recreation | 1.14 | 82.48 | 36.50 |

Education and communication | 1.84 | 162.23 | 52.45 |

Other goods and services | 4.94 | 1,187.59 | 257.52 |

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 1968. 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 1968 and today:

CPI today
CPI in 1968

×

1968 USD value

=

Today's value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 34.8 in the year 1968 and 276.589 in 2021:

276.58934.8

×

$20

=

$20 in 1968 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $158.96 in 2021.

To get the total inflation rate for the 53 years between 1968 and 2021, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2021 - CPI in 1968CPI in 1968

×

100

=

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

276.589 - 34.834.8

×

100

=

The above data describe the CPI for all items. Also of note is the **Core CPI**, which measures inflation for all items except for the more volatile categories of food and energy.
Core inflation averaged 3.90% per year between 1968 and 2021 (vs all-CPI inflation of 3.99%), for an inflation total of 660.12%.

When using the core inflation measurement, $20 in 1968 is equivalent in buying power to $152.02 in 2021, a difference of $132.02. Recall that for All Items, the converted amount is $158.96 with a difference of $138.96.

In 1968, core inflation was 4.63%.

The average inflation rate of 3.99% has a compounding effect between 1968 and 2021. As noted above, this yearly inflation rate compounds to produce an overall price difference of 694.80% over 53 years.

To help put this inflation into perspective, if we had invested $20 in the S&P 500 index in 1968, our investment would be * nominally* worth approximately $4,322.22 in 2021. This is a return on investment of 21,511.11%, with an absolute return of $4,302.22 on top of the original $20.

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 87.42% of returns ($3,778.41) during this period. This means the inflation-adjusted * real* return of our $20 investment is $523.82. You may also want to account for capital gains tax, which would take your real return down to around $445 for most people.

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

Nominal |
$20 | $4,322.22 | 21,511.11% |

RealInflation Adjusted |
$20 | $543.82 | 2,619.08% |

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 1968 to latest available data for 2021 using average monthly close price.

For more details on the S&P 500 between 1968 and 2021, see the stock market returns calculator.

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

- The Battle of Khe Sanh begins it is one of the most controversial battles of the Vietnam War.
- A photograph that later became an anti-war icon, is taken: it captures Saigon police chief Nguyễn Ngọc Loan executing Viet Cong officer Nguyễn Văn Lém with a pistol shot to the head.
- Martin Luther King Jr is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.
- France becomes the world's 5th thermonuclear power after the Mururoa Atoll detonation.

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: “$20 in 1968 → 2021 | Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 1 Dec. 2021, https://www.officialdata.org/1968-dollars-in-2021?amount=20.

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 | 694.80% |

Average inflation rate | 3.99% |

Converted amount ($20 base) | $158.96 |

Price difference ($20 base) | $138.96 |

CPI in 1968 | 34.800 |

CPI in 2021 | 276.589 |

Inflation in 1968 | 4.19% |

Inflation in 2021 | 6.22% |

$20 in 1968 | $158.96 in 2021 |