The Most Important Chart of the Century


Over the past several decades, prices have changed quite a bit — but not only in one direction. The cost of a cell phone in 2018 is much lower than it was in 1997, and the cost of a college education is much more expensive now than it was in 1998.

The ones that have fallen in price are goods, tangible items mostly. The ones that have risen in price are mostly services. Economic scholar Mark Perry calls them tradeables vs. non-tradeables.

Television sets, software, and toys — down. These commodities have largely been free of government intervention, things like over-regulation and "assistance."

Compare this to items that have experienced massive increases over two decades: hospital costs, college tuition, and textbooks. Perry notes that government has greatly increased its role in these areas. As more programs and agencies have been created to help more students get into college, and help more people get health care, the main result has been these drastic increases in prices for the access and associated goods.

What are you paying more for today than a decade ago? What is a lot cheaper? Login and tell us.