Everybody uses the term 'social security,' but definitions vary widely. This unique book may be conceived as a wide-ranging definition, although in fact, it emphasizes only part of the concept: that administrative function that grants cash benefits to offset or compensate for such 'social risks' as old age, disability, unemployment, costs of health care, and other instances occasioning the lack of means necessary for a decent existence. In an earlier form (1993), this book proved itself as a much-sought-after introduction to the field, for governments as much as for law students. In this completely revised and updated work, Professor Pieters again offers, this time to a new generation of scholars and policymakers, a common language and structure with which to talk and think about social security. The presentation is both abstract (theory of social security) and concise (structure of social security systems). In taking into account the diversity of ways in which social security has been shaped by priorities of place and time, Dr. Pieters delineates the distinct alternatives that can be adhered to in establishing a social security system. He builds a frame in which these various concepts, principles, options, and techniques can be put into perspective. Although this approach hints at a 'common law' of social security, Dr Pieters goes further in that direction than a brief general survey (in his last chapter) of the possible features of a comparative social security law. Social Security: An Introduction to the Basic Principles is sure to find a welcome among many sectors of the legal and policy communities. Full of insight and information, and eminently readable, the book may be seen in a number of different ways: as a road map explaining the social security systems of various states; as an overview of the various options available for building a social security system; as an exploration of the possibilities of rethinking or reforming an existing system; as the first tentative step toward a scientific discipline of comparative social security law; and much else besides.