S&P 500 Historical Return Calculator [With Dividends]

The S&P 500 calculator below provides both the nominal and inflation-adjusted price and total return (assuming dividend reinvestment) of U.S. stocks (i.e. the S&P 500) over any time period from January 1871 to the present (see the default “End Month” below for the latest date available).

The data comes from Robert Shiller’s website and does not account for taxes, fees, or transaction costs.

Nominal Price Return: %

Annualized: %

Investment Grew To:

Nominal Total Return (with dividends reinvested): %

Annualized: %

Investment Grew To:

Inflation-Adjusted Price Return: %

Annualized: %

Investment Grew To:

Inflation-Adjusted Total Return (with dividends reinvested): %

Annualized: %

Investment Grew To:

Best Practices

    • When utilizing the S&P 500 calculator for full year returns, use the same month for the start month and end month.
      • For example, if you wanted to know the 1-year S&P 500 return following the bottom of the Great Financial Crisis in March 2009, I’d recommend using March 2009 as the “Start Month” and March 2010 as the “End Month”. If you use February 2010 as the “End Month”, you would only have 11 months of data, which would be less accurate.
    • When calculating calendar year returns, I recommend using December for the “Start Month” and the “End Month”.
      • For example, if you wanted to know the 2022 calendar year return for the S&P 500, I’d recommend using December 2021 as the “Start Month” and December 2022 as the “End Month”.
      • Though the Shiller data uses the average price across the month, meaning that January 2022 to January 2023 should be roughly as accurate as December 2021 to December 2022, in practice I’ve found that December-to-December returns more closely match the actual calendar year returns for the S&P 500.
      • Due to Shiller’s calculation methodology, this calculator will never be able to replicate the actual calendar year returns for the S&P 500, but December-to-December returns will get you close.
    • For 1-month returns focus on the “End Month” not the “Start Month”.
      • For example, if you wanted the 1-month return in March 2009, you would set the “End Month” to March 2009 and the “Start Month” to February 2009.
    • Be careful when interpreting annualized returns over time periods of less than a year.
      • While the annualized return calculations will be accurate over any time period, they can be a bit exaggerated for time periods less than a year in length. For example, a one-month return of 5% would be roughly 80% on an annualized basis. This is mathematically accurate, but not necessarily informative.

Lastly, for all total return calculations, dividends are assumed to be reinvested on a monthly basis.

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Historical return assumptions for U.S. stock market returns are based on monthly stock price, dividends, and earnings data and the consumer price index (to allow conversion to real values), all starting January 1871. The price, dividend, and earnings series are from the same sources as described in Chapter 26 of Robert Shiller’s book (Market Volatility [Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1989]), although he now uses monthly data, rather than annual data.

Monthly dividend and earnings data are computed from the S&P four-quarter totals for the quarter since 1926, with linear interpolation to monthly figures. Dividend and earnings data before 1926 are from Cowles and associates (Common Stock Indexes, 2nd ed. [Bloomington, Ind.: Principia Press, 1939]), interpolated from annual data. Stock price data are monthly averages of daily closing prices through January 2000, the last month available as this book goes to press.

The CPI-U (Consumer Price Index-All Urban Consumers) published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics begins in 1913; for years before 1913 1 spliced to the CPI Warren and Pearson’s price index, by multiplying it by the ratio of the indexes in January 1913. December 1999 and January 2000 values for the CPI-Uare extrapolated.

An index is a hypothetical portfolio of securities representing a particular market or a segment of it used as indicator of the change in the securities market. Hypothetical performance is performance that was not actually achieved by any accounts. Indices are not available for direct investment; therefore, their performance does not reflect the expenses associated with the management of an actual portfolio.

All investments involve some degree of risk, including loss of principal. There can be no assurances that any investment will be profitable or that you will achieve your investment goals. Your actual results will vary based upon your individual situation, when you invest, future market performance and other factors. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Analyses in this report indicating investment performance are based on past performance. Your portfolio’s performance may vary significantly from, and potentially be lower than, the performance presented.

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