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EAFE Index


The EAFE Index, or Europe, Australasia, and Far East Index, is a benchmark used to measure the performance of international equity markets, specifically focusing on developed economies outside of North America. Created by Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI), the index consists of approximately 85% of the free float-adjusted market capitalization in these regions, including stocks from 21 different countries. Investors use the EAFE Index for diversifying their portfolios and as a reference to gauge the performance of their international equities.


The phonetics of the keyword “EAFE Index” are:E – ˈiA – eɪF – ɛfE – ˈiIndex – ˈɪnˌdɛksSo, the phonetic pronunciation is: ˈi-eɪ-ɛf-ˈi ˈɪnˌdɛks

Key Takeaways


  1. International Benchmark: The EAFE (Europe, Australasia, and Far East) Index is designed to measure the performance of the developed stock markets outside of the United States and Canada. It serves as a global benchmark for international investment portfolios.
  2. Investment Tool: Investors and portfolio managers use the EAFE Index as a tool to track market performance and allocate investments across the global market. EAFE Index-based funds provide investors with a diversified investment strategy and exposure to the growth potential of other developed markets worldwide.
  3. MSCI EAFE Index: Managed by MSCI, the EAFE Index consists of over 900 large- and mid-cap companies across 21 developed market countries. The index covers approximately 85% of the free float-adjusted market capitalization within each of these countries and offers a comprehensive representation of the international equity market.



The EAFE (Europe, Australasia, and Far East) Index is an essential benchmark in the world of business and finance, as it provides a broad measure of the performance of major stock markets beyond North America. By tracking the investment returns across 21 developed countries, the EAFE Index enables investors to gauge the health of international markets, identify growth opportunities, and diversify their investment portfolios. This index, developed by MSCI, offers a comprehensive perspective on the global economic scenario by capturing large and mid-cap equities, ultimately assisting investors in making informed decisions and mitigating risks associated with geographical concentration.


The primary purpose of the EAFE Index, which stands for Europe, Australasia, and the Far East index, is to act as a benchmark for measuring the performance of international equity markets in developed countries outside of the United States and Canada. The EAFE Index provides investors, financial institutions, and wealth managers with a useful tool to evaluate various investment options by comparing their performance against the index. By doing so, it allows them to make informed decisions about the allocation of their assets in international equity markets. Also, the index acts as an essential yardstick for passive investors who wish to gain exposure to global securities while maintaining a diversified portfolio.

In addition to its role as a performance benchmark, the EAFE Index is often employed as an underlying reference for index funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) designed to replicate the performance of the international equity markets it represents. These funds offer investors an efficient and convenient means of accessing a broad range of developed international markets, enabling them to invest and diversify their portfolios in regions across Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Australia. In this context, the EAFE Index demonstrates its significance by providing investors with the means to compare their performance and assessing the effectiveness of their investment strategies relative to the global markets.


The EAFE (Europe, Australasia, and Far East) Index, developed by MSCI, is a widely followed benchmark for the performance of non-U.S. and Canadian equities across 21 developed markets worldwide, excluding North America.Three real-world examples related to the EAFE Index in business and finance are:

1. Investment Products: Various investment products such as mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are designed to track the performance of the EAFE Index. For instance, iShares MSCI EAFE ETF (EFA) is a popular product designed to provide investment results that closely track the EAFE Index. It allows investors to gain exposure to international equities in the developed world.

2. Global Investment Strategy: Many institutional investors, such as pension funds and endowments, use the EAFE Index to diversify their portfolios and reduce their reliance on domestic markets. These investors may allocate a certain percentage of their assets to international equity markets, as indicated by the EAFE Index, to ensure diversification and access to growth opportunities in other regions of the world.

3. Performance Benchmarking: Investment managers and financial advisors often use the EAFE Index as a benchmark to assess the performance of their internationally-focused portfolios. For example, if a portfolio has a larger percentage of its holdings invested in international equities, the manager may compare the portfolio’s returns with the EAFE Index to evaluate performance. If the portfolio consistently outperforms the EAFE Index, it might be seen as an indicator that the investment strategy has been successful.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the EAFE Index?

The EAFE Index, or the MSCI EAFE Index, is a stock market index designed to measure the equity market performance of developed countries, excluding the United States and Canada. EAFE stands for Europe, Australasia, and the Far East.

Which countries are included in the EAFE Index?

The EAFE Index comprises 21 developed countries from Europe, Australasia, and the Far East, such as the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan, and Australia.

What is the purpose of the EAFE Index?

The EAFE Index serves as a benchmark for international equity performance for investors considering investments outside the U.S. and Canadian markets. It provides a broad representation of the developed world’s stock market performance, excluding North America.

How is the EAFE Index calculated?

The EAFE Index is calculated using a market capitalization-weighted methodology, which means that larger companies with higher market capitalizations have a greater impact on the index’s overall value than smaller companies with lower market capitalizations.

Can I invest directly in the EAFE Index?

You cannot invest directly in the EAFE Index. However, you can invest in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or index funds that track the performance of the EAFE Index, such as the iShares MSCI EAFE ETF or the MSCI EAFE Index Fund.

How does the EAFE Index differ from other global indices?

While the EAFE Index measures the equity market performance of developed countries, excluding the United States and Canada, indices like the MSCI World Index or the MSCI ACWI Index cover a broader range of countries, including both developed and emerging markets.

What are the potential risks associated with investing in the EAFE Index?

Investing in the EAFE Index carries risks, such as currency risk, political risk, and economic risk. Since the index comprises companies from different countries, it is exposed to fluctuations in exchange rates, political instability, and variations in economic growth rates among the constituent countries.

How can I use the EAFE Index in my investment strategy?

The EAFE Index can be used as a benchmark for measuring the performance of your international equity investments, or as a basis for diversifying your portfolio by adding exposure to developed markets outside the U.S. and Canada. Investing in index funds or ETFs that track the EAFE Index can help you achieve this diversification.

Related Finance Terms

  • MSCI EAFE (Morgan Stanley Capital International Europe, Australasia, and Far East)
  • International Equity Market
  • Developed Market Countries
  • Global Investment Performance
  • Index Fund Tracking

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