Close this search box.

Table of Contents

Indexing: Definition and Uses in Economics and Investing


Indexing in economics and investing is the process of adjusting income payments by using a measure of inflation, typically to preserve the purchasing power of the money. In investing, it’s the strategy of replicating the performance of a specific market index, such as the S&P 500, implying a passive investment approach. It’s utilized widely for benchmarking performance, gauging market movements, creating index funds, ETFs, and in portfolio diversification strategies.


The phonetics for the phrase “Indexing: Definition and Uses in Economics and Investing” are as follows:Indexing: /ˈɪndɛksɪŋ/Definition: /ˌdɛfəˈnɪʃ(ə)n/and: /ænd/Uses: /ˈjuːzɪz/in: /ɪn/Economics: /ˌiːkəˈnɒmɪks/and: /ænd/Investing: /ɪnˈvɛstɪŋ/

Key Takeaways


  1. Indexing in Economics: This is a statistical measure that reflects the changes in the price or quantity of goods and services over time. Indices in economics, such as the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or the GDP deflator, are commonly used to measure inflation, cost of living, and economic growth.
  2. Indexing in Investing: This refers to the strategy of structuring an investment portfolio to mirror the performance of a particular market index. This passive management strategy assumes that markets are efficient and it’s hard to outperform the market consistently, so it aims to match the market return with lower cost than active management.
  3. The Significance of Indexing: Indexing is critical in both economics and investing. In economics, it helps governments to make informed decisions about policies to manage inflation and stimulate economic growth. In investing, index funds have become popular due to their lower fees, lower turnover, and better diversification compared to actively managed funds.



Indexing is a crucial concept in economics and investing, as it provides a measurable way to track the performance of a particular group of assets, such as a stock index tracking a specific market’s performance. Investors use indices to benchmark their own investments and as a base for index funds and exchange-traded funds, which mimic the performance of the index. Meanwhile, in economics, indexing can be used to adjust for the effects of inflation on various economic elements such as salaries or social security benefits. Therefore, understanding the concept of indexing is vital for both investors and economists to make informed decisions and compare changes over time.


Indexing in the fields of economics and investing is an effective strategy that serves the purpose of tracking the performance of a particular group of assets or a particular section of the market. These assets may include stocks, bonds, or any other types of investments. For instance, the S&P 500 is an index that monitors the performance of 500 of the largest publicly traded companies in the U.S. Investors deeply rely on these indexes to help understand the current market trends, compare the performance of their own investments against these trends, and to diversify their portfolio.Indexing also plays a critical role in the investment strategy known as ‘indexing investing’. This strategy involves assembling and managing a portfolio in such a way that it mirrors the components of a market index. By doing so, investors are aiming to reach the same returns as the chosen index, minimizing the likelihood of underperforming the market. Moreover, indexing can help reduce costs as it often involves less trading (and hence fewer commission fees) than active investing. Overall, the purpose and use of indexing lie in providing investors an overview of market activities, and guiding them in making informed investment decisions.


1. S&P 500 Indexing: The S&P 500 is a financial index that is widely regarded as the best indicator of how large-cap U.S. stocks are performing on a day-to-day basis. It consists of a portfolio of 500 of the most widely traded stocks in the U.S, and each stock in the index is weighted by its market cap. Index funds and ETFs (Exchange-Traded Funds) that track the S&P 500 allow investors to gain exposure to the performance of these companies without having to buy each individual stock.2. Cost of Living Indexing: This type of indexing is used in economics to measure the relative cost of living over time or regions. It is a theoretical measure of the amount of money that an individual or family requires to maintain a certain standard of living in varying geographic areas. This tool can be used by organizations to adjust salaries based on geographical location or by governments to adjust benefit payments to account for inflation. 3. Bond Market Indexing: The Bloomberg Barclays US Aggregate Bond Index is a major benchmark for bond investing. It tracks the performance of U.S. investment-grade bonds, including government, corporate, and mortgage-backed securities. Bond investors can invest in index funds or ETFs that track this index to achieve a diversified exposure to the bond market. This type of indexing allows investors to manage risk and predict potential yield of their portfolio.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is indexing in the field of economics and investing?

Indexing is a method used by investors for replicating the performance of a specific financial market index. This can be achieved through the purchase of index funds or exchange-traded funds that track the index.

How does indexing work?

Indexing works by creating a portfolio of financial products such as stocks or bonds that replicate the composition of a specific index. The performance of the index portfolio then moves in tangent with the underlying index being tracked.

What are the advantages of indexing?

Indexing provides several advantages: it diversifies the investor’s portfolio, reduces the risk associated with individual securities, enables a passive investment strategy, and generally involves lower management fees compared to actively managed funds.

Is indexing a form of passive investing?

Yes, indexing is often considered a form of passive investing as it involves buying and holding a portfolio of securities to achieve the same returns as a specific market index, rather than trying to outperform the market through active trading strategies.

What is an example of an index used in indexing?

The most commonly known index used in indexing is the S&P 500, a stock market index that measures the performance of 500 large companies listed on the US stock exchanges. Other examples include the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) and the Nasdaq Composite Index.

Can indexing be applied to all types of financial markets?

Yes, indexing can be applied to a wide range of financial markets, including bonds, currencies, commodities, and real estate, in addition to equities.

How is indexing related to or different from ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds)?

ETFs are a type of investment fund that track the performance of a specific index. They are similar to indexing in that they allow investors to replicate the performance of a market index, but different in that ETFs can be bought and sold like individual stocks on a stock exchange.

What is the role of an index fund manager in indexing?

The role of an index fund manager in indexing is primarily to make sure that the fund is correctly mirroring the index it is tracking. They ensure this by buying and selling assets in the fund when necessary to align with the index.

Can there be risks or pitfalls in indexing?

While indexing allows for diversification and typically lower costs, it still contains risks like any investment. This strategy is dependent on broad market movements and does not guard against downturns in the index. There is also the chance that the tracking error could result in returns that are less than the referenced index.

Related Finance Terms

  • Market Index: A composite that indicates how a particular section of the stock market or economy is performing. Examples include the Dow Jones Industrial Average or the S&P 500.
  • Passive Investing: A strategy linked to index investing which involves creating a portfolio that mirrors a market index to achieve similar returns.
  • Index Fund: A type of mutual fund or exchange-traded fund (ETF) with a portfolio that corresponds to or replicates a particular market index.
  • Benchmark: A standard against which the performance of a security, mutual fund, or investment strategy can be measured. Generally, broad market indexes are used for this purpose.
  • Indexing Method: The process by which a portfolio of investments is adjusted to match the performance of a specific index.

Sources for More Information

About Our Editorial Process

At Due, we are dedicated to providing simple money and retirement advice that can make a big impact in your life. Our team closely follows market shifts and deeply understands how to build REAL wealth. All of our articles undergo thorough editing and review by financial experts, ensuring you get reliable and credible money advice.

We partner with leading publications, such as Nasdaq, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, and more, to provide insights on retirement, current markets, and more.

We also host a financial glossary of over 7000 money/investing terms to help you learn more about how to take control of your finances.

View our editorial process

About Our Journalists

Our journalists are not just trusted, certified financial advisers. They are experienced and leading influencers in the financial realm, trusted by millions to provide advice about money. We handpick the best of the best, so you get advice from real experts. Our goal is to educate and inform, NOT to be a ‘stock-picker’ or ‘market-caller.’ 

Why listen to what we have to say?

While Due does not know how to predict the market in the short-term, our team of experts DOES know how you can make smart financial decisions to plan for retirement in the long-term.

View our expert review board

About Due

Due makes it easier to retire on your terms. We give you a realistic view on exactly where you’re at financially so when you retire you know how much money you’ll get each month. Get started today.

Due Fact-Checking Standards and Processes

To ensure we’re putting out the highest content standards, we sought out the help of certified financial experts and accredited individuals to verify our advice. We also rely on them for the most up to date information and data to make sure our in-depth research has the facts right, for today… Not yesterday. Our financial expert review board allows our readers to not only trust the information they are reading but to act on it as well. Most of our authors are CFP (Certified Financial Planners) or CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor) certified and all have college degrees. Learn more about annuities, retirement advice and take the correct steps towards financial freedom and knowing exactly where you stand today. Learn everything about our top-notch financial expert reviews below… Learn More