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Which MeasuringWorth comparator is best for you?

Present worth of a past amount

The Merriam-Webster dictionary says a comparator is “a device for comparing something with a similar thing or with a standard measure.” The principle of the MeasuringWorth is that there is no one standard measure for comparing what a monetary value in the past is worth today. The best measure depends on the question asked.

Our comparators can provide several alternative answers with a guide to the best choice. Many websites and other resources will give you one answer in terms of a consumer price index. This simplification can be misleading, as any transaction is valued in different ways by different people and indifferent contexts. Thus, when making comparisons over time, these alternative ways of understanding value must be taken into account.

At present, we have comparators that give you seven answers for the United States (from 1774 on), five for the United Kingdom (from 1270 on), five for Australia (from 1828 on). These dates are determined by the limits of available data.

There are also two comarators for five for Japan (from 1879 to 2011), and three for China (from 1952 to 2011). These last two have not been updated recently, because we do not have anyone who wants to take charge of them.

For a guide to how to choose which answer is the best for your question, please refer to Choosing the Best Indicator to Measure Relative Worth.

Comparing the growth rates of economic variables over different periods and for different lengths of time

The growth of most variables over time, in economics and elsewhere, is usually measured as a percent increase (or decrease). To compare growth rates over different times in history and for different durations, economists use the concept of annualized growth rate. The growth comparator here makes these comparisons for 23 annual economic and demographic series as far back as the 13th century.

The year-to-year inflation rate in the United States (1775 on) and the United Kingdom (1265 on)

This inflation rates comparator gives you the year-to-year inflation rate for all the years in the range you choose and the annualized growth rate for the entire time period.

How much would your saving grow in the past, depending on what it is invested in

One's savings accumulates over time at different rates depending on where it is invested. Savings accounts at banks are very safe; however, they pay a low rate of return compared to the stock market. Bonds can pay more, but they sometimes require investors to keep their money tied up for extended periods. Stocks are usually the most risky and for many periods have given their owners high returns; however, they can go through long periods of no appreciation, such as from 1965 to 1982 and since 2000 in the United States. The saving comparator can tell you how your savings would have grown in the past depending on which type of asset you chose as an investment for your savings. There is also an iPhone app for this comparator.

What is a historic price in British Pounds worth in US dollars today (and vice versa)?

If you seek to know the present worth of a past monetary value that is valued in a currency different thanyour own, the problem becomes more complicated. Instead of dealing with only the changing value of the item in your currency, you must also deal with the changing value in the other country’s currency and the changing exchange rate between the two. Thus, there are three variables to account for instead of one. The conversion comparator uses the CPI and GDP deflator in both the United States and the United Kingdom and gives a range of answers that depend on which year’s exchange rate applies.

Comparing the growth rates of daily stock indexes over different periods and for different length of time

The stock growth comparator can calculate the growth rate of the DJIA, S&P500 and NASDAQ in the United States between any two days from when each index began to the present. The answer is determined using theannualized growth rate between the two days compounded daily.


Please let us know if and how this discussion has assisted you in using our comparators.