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Large Cap Stock Market Returns Since 1973

The Stock Market, On Average, Has Negative Returns 1 Out Of Every 4 Years

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Dice on stock market report, close-up
Ken Reid/ Taxi/ Getty Images

In the table below, you can see historical stock market returns from 1973 through 2010, on a year by year basis. Negative stock market returns occur, on average, one out of every four years. You will see the positive years far outweigh the negative years.

No one knows ahead of time when those negative stock market returns are going to occur. If you are not willing to stay invested through a bear market than you need to either stay out of stocks, or be prepared to lose money, because no one will be able to consistently time the market to get in and out and avoid the down years.

For a more colorful and informative way to view historical stock market returns, check out the graphs in Best and Worst Rolling Index Returns.

*Data in table below from Dimensional Matrix Book 2012 and 2013 from Standard & Poor's.

Historical Stock Market Returns

Historical S&P 500 Index Stock Market Returns
Year Return  
1973 -14.7%
1974 -26.5%
1975 37.2%
1976 23.8%
1977 -7.2%
1978 6.6%
1979 18.4%
1980 32.4%
1981 -4.9%
1982 21.4%
1983 22.5
1984 6.3%
1985 32.2%
1986 18.5%
1987 5.2%
1988 16.8%
1989 31.5%
1990 -3.2%
1991 30.5%
1992 7.7%
1993 10.0%
1994 1.3%
1995 37.4%
1996 23.1%
1997 33.4%
1998 28.6%
1999 21.0%
2000 -9.1%
2001 -11.90%
2002 -22.1%
2003 28.7%
2004 10.9%
2005 4.9%
2006 15.9%
2007 5.5%
2008 -37.0%
2009 26.5%
2010 15.1%
2011 2.1%
2012 16.0%
2013 32.4%

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