This is an open access title available under the terms of a CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 IGO licence. It is free to read at Oxford Scholarship Online and offered as a free PDF download from OUP and selected open access locations. The term 'social security' has a very different meaning in underdeveloped countries and is best understood as poverty alleviation. This work seeks to define social security in its various forms and to examine what types of programmes are most suitable for developing countries. The authors review current literature on the subject. Some chapters explore broad themes, while others describe social security provisions in various regions in South Asia, China, Latin America, and Southern Africa. Western systems are compared and broad assessments made of the traditional social security systems in village societies. The editors aim to put the subject of social security firmly on the agenda of development economic research with a view to stimulate much further research in this area. The volume is written in a way that will be accessible to a much wider audience.