What’s the Average Stock Market Return? The average annual stock market return is widely reported to be 7%. Trent Hamm at The Simple Dollar believes so. Tom DeGrace mentions the same figure. An article by J.D. Roth acknowledges a book that points to a similar figure. I’m sure I could go on and on. Over the very long run, the stock market has had an inflation-adjusted annualized return rate of between six and seven percent. Another pattern: while stocks have certainly beaten inflation over the long run, they've done poorly within the high-inflation periods themselves: try the inflation-adjusted returns for 1916-1918, 1946-1947, and 1973-1981. Incorporating inflation data to historical total returns and relative prices produces the following inflation-adjusted graph: As can be seen, the stock market was very profitable, in real terms, in the 1950 to 1965 and 1983 to 2000 periods. On the other hand, it didn't perform well from 1965 to 1983, and neither it did for the last decade.