US Inflation Rate, 1910 – 1915

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, December 29, 1913:  Earned ten cents this morning a-doing darling sister’s milking. She doesn’t always pay me, but that was the bargain this morning.

Inflation.1910-1915

Data Source:  Consumer Price Index (Estimate), 1800 -, The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

10 cents!?!?!? I don’t think that I would have agreed to milk the cows for only 10 cents.  I guess that it’s better to be paid than not paid, but even by 1913 standards, 10 cents wasn’t much.

According to an online inflation calculator a dollar in 1913 is now worth $23.81—so a dime in 1913 is now worth $2.38.

There’s been a lot of inflation over the years—though the inflation rate was only 2.4 % in 1913.

Was a College Degree Worth More a Hundred Years Ago than it is Now?

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, October 13, 1913:

10/13 – 10/17: Nothing worth writing about for these days. Don’t go any place or do anything of much importance.

Salaries.education.level.1913.2013

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Some days are just like that—they barely seem worthwhile. Today I hear so many recent college graduates worrying about whether it was worthwhile getting a college degree since the job market is so tight.

Was a college degree worth more a hundred years ago than it is now?

1913

According to a 1913 book called Rural Arithmetic by John E. Calfee:

A business  man who has studied the productive power of intelligent labor in New York reports that the man with a common-school education is able to produce one and one-half times as much wealth as the illiterate man, the high-school man two times as much, and the college man four times as much.

2013

According to Frontline on PBS (Public Broadcasting Service), today:

The average dropout can expect to earn an annual income of $20,241, according to the US Census Bureau. That’s a full $10,386 less than the typical high school graduate, and $36,424 less than someone with a bachelor’s degree.

Comparison

There’s more of an income benefit of earning a high school diploma today than back then—and the value of getting a college has also increased slightly.

In other words, today someone with a high school diploma earns on average 1.5 times as much as a high school graduate and someone with a college degree earns 2.8 times as much.

This can be compared to 1913 when (after the base was converted to 1 for a high school dropout), a high school graduate on average earned 1.3 times as much as the dropout,  and the college graduate earned 2.7 times as much as the dropout.

For those who care about the details–

I assumed that the benefit of a college degree didn’t change much between 2012 and 2013. The data I used was from a 2012 article.

Rural Arithmetic is a math textbook. A subheading in one of the chapters was “Educated Labor”.  The quote above was pulled from the introduction to that subsection. It was followed by a series of word problems about the value of education.

The 1913 book used the term “common school graduate” to refer to someone who had completed 8 years of education.  For the purposes of this analysis I considered a common school graduate to be a high school dropout.

And, here is a chart that contains a crosswalk between the base (salary of illiterate person=1) used in the 1913 book, and the base (salary of a high school dropout = 1) that I used in the chart at the top of this post.

Salaries.education.level.drop-out

An aside–We must be doing something right with education today since we no longer even think about what the salary would be for an illiterate person.

.

Causes of Death in Pennsylvania During March, 1913

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Saturday, June 14, 1913:  Nothing much doing.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Did you ever wonder if people died from different causes a hundred years ago than what they do today? Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, I’ll share an interesting article I found in the June 16, 1913 issue of the Milton Evening Standard.

Milton.Evening.Standard.6.16.13

Births Exceed Deaths in State During March

Births in Pennsylvania during March numbers 18,945, but to offset this increase in population the deaths numbered 11,000, the ratio of deaths to births being higher than the average.

Pneumonia, which always exacts heavy toll during the winter, caused 1,721 deaths in March. The deaths were distributed among the various diseases and other causes about as usual.

Following are the figures compiled by the bureau of vital statistics of the state department of health:

Typhoid fever. . .62

Scarlet fever. . . 100

Diphtheria. . . 171

Measles. . . 314

Whooping cough  . . . 77

Smallpox. . . 1

Influenza. .  .211

Malaria. . . 4

Tuberculosis of lungs . . . 817

Tuberculosis of other organs . . . 118

Cancer. . . 485

Diabetes. . .63

Meningitis . . . 87

Acute anterior poliomyelitis. . 7

Pneumonia . . . 1721

Diarrhea and enteritis, under 2 yrs. . . 240

Diarrhea and enteritis, over 2 yrs. . 63

Bright’s disease and nephritis .  . . 716

Early infancy. . . 716

Suicide . . . 76

Accidents in mines. . . 80

Railway injuries. . . 85

Other form of violence. . . 462

All other diseases. . . 4343

Percentage of US Population Affiliated with Various Religions, 1913 and 2013

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Sunday, June, 1913:  

What is so rare as a day in June ,

For then if ever comes perfect days,

When song of bird and hum of bees

Bring to us fair summer’s sweetest day.

Went to Sunday school this afternoon. Took my time a getting home. I heard some of the best speaking I have ever listened to this evening. A converted Jew talked about some of the customs of the Jewish people in the Reformed Church at McEwensville.

Religious.Affiliation

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma’ diary entry made me wonder: What percentage of the US population were considered members of the various religions in 1913 and 2013?

I discovered that this was a much more difficult question to answer than I thought it would be.  The data on religious affiliations were collected very differently in the early 1900s than how it is gathered now—so when the data are compiled to do a comparison, it’s kind of like comparing apples to oranges.

This gets complicated, but let me try to explain what I did to create the figure above:

In the early 1900s , the US Bureau of the Census conducted a religious census every ten years.  Religious leaders were asked how many members their congregation had; whereas in recent years, various non-profit organizations have conducted surveys where they asked a sample of the population about their religious preferences.  As a result of these differences in methodology many more people were considered to have no religious affiliation a hundred years ago than now.

Calculation of 1913 Percentages

For the figure above, I used data from an article titled “U.S. has 42,043,374 Members of Church, New Census Shows” in the May 2, 1918 issue of the Minneapolis Morning Tribune. According to the article:

The term ‘members’ has  a wide variety of uses. In most Protestant bodies it is limited to communicants or confirmed members; in the Roman Catholic, Eastern, and some other churches it includes all baptized persons, while in some bodies it covers enrolled persons.

The membership for the Jewish congregations requires some explanation. Some congregations reported as members all who contribute to the treasury of the congregation and not infrequently included women and children. The more orthodox, of the other hand, reported only those males who have incorporated the institution or have bought share or membership in it, but do not recognize as members other persons who are regular attendees or even contributors.

For the figure, I used data from the 1916 Religious Census, as reported in the Minneapolis Morning Tribune article, since this was the one done closest to a hundred years ago.  To calculate the percentages I used the US population estimate for 1916 as reported by the US Bureau of the Census. I assumed that the percentage of the population who were members of various religions did not change much between 1913 and 1916 when creating the figure.

Calculation of the 2013 Percentages

For the 2013 percentages, I used data from a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center.  Phone interviews were used to survey a sample of the US population. Respondents were asked which religion they identified with.

The survey was conducted in July, 2012—and I assume that the percentages have not changed significantly since then.

Monthly Poem

On the first of each month Grandma included a poem in the diary. For more information about the poems, see a previous post:

Monthly Poem in Diary

Most Popular Baby Names, 1913 and 2013

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, May 15, 1913:  Doing nothing of any account.

baby.names

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t have much to say a hundred years ago today, I’m going to follow-up on some comments I got several days ago—

On May 10, I did a post about whether Grandma’s name was really Helena or Helen. The post got lots of comments—and several people mentioned that their grandmother’s or great-grandmother’s name also was Helena or Helen.

This got me thinking about popular baby names in 1913—and popular names a hundred years later in 2013.

According the Baby Center website, none of the ten most popular baby names in 1913 were in the top ten in 2013.

Divorce Rate: 1913 and 2013

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, March 13, 1913:  Nothing doing.

divorce.rate

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, I’ll go off on another tangent–

I’ve been reading some Edith Wharton books from the early 20th century—and one of the themes in her writing is unhappy marriages and the role of divorce. This made me wonder if divorce rates have changed much across the years.

The divorce rate was 0.9 per thousand population in 1913. It peaked at 4.6 in 1993; and decreased to 3.6 in 2013.

For those of you who care about the source of the data–The historic data is from Infoplease, and the data for the current year is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If data for the exact year were not available, I used data from the nearest available year (typically the first year of the decade–for example, I used 1910 data for 1913).

Here are links to some previous posts on statistics that you might enjoy:

Average Height for Males and Females in 1912 and 2012

Infant Mortality Rates: 1912 and 2012

Are You Obese? 1911 and 2011

Life Expectancy—1911 and 2011

Median Age at Marriage—Then and Now

Which States Had the Most People in 1913 and 2013?

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, January 3, 1913: I’m so sleepy for I’m keeping later hours with my books Perhaps the thing will work all right after all. Hope it does.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma was still trying to keep her New Year’s resolution to study harder—though she complained both on January 2 and 3 about being sleepy.

A hundred years ago students memorized more things than they do now.  Might Grandma have been required to memorize geography facts such the names of the five states with the most people ? . . . and  the five states with the fewest people.

Rank of States by Population, 1913 and 2013

state.population

I was surprised to discover how much the state ranks have changed over the last 100 years. In 1913, Pennsylvania—where Grandma lived— was the second most populous state in the US; now it is the sixth largest.

And, a hundred years ago, California was the 13th most populous state—today it is the state with the most people.

For those who are interested in the details about where I got the data for the table–I assumed that the population did not change between 1910 and 1913 and used data from the 1910 census for the 1913 estimates. I assumed that the population in 2013 is the same as it was in 2012. The 2013 estimates are based on April 1, 2012 estimates of the US population which were adjusted estimates based on the 2010 US Census.

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