Saturday, May 27, 2017

How much is that?

One of the things I tend to do is to adjust mentally any prices or incomes in a mystery to the "present-equivalent." And I just read (oddly enough for the first time) Agatha Christie's Death in the Clouds (also published as Death in the Air), which was published in 1938 (and presumably written in 1937). As a part of the story, Poirot discusses making a 500 pound contribution to an expedition being planned by a father-and-son team of archeologists.

So how much is that?

Well,... for starters, that would have been about $2,500 in 1937 at the exchange rate between the dollar and the pound in 1937, or about twice the average income for a male worker employed full-time, full year. So we can adjust that wo ways.

First, according to the CPI, prices are about 17 (16.67) times as high today as in 1937. Su a simple inflation adjustment says that's about $45,000.

Or, we could ask, what's the average annual income for an adult male worker in the US who's employed full-time, full-year now? The answer is about $900 a week, or nearly $47,000. But Poirot was talking about a contribution equal to TWICE the average annual income in 1937, or $94,000.
So either way, Hercule must have had a healthy bank balance to casually consider offering that sore of a contribution. Healthier than mine, for sure.

(Incidentally, he did make the contribution.)

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