The Background, Methods and Findings from the research project are presented. Based on the findings, issues for policy and further research are given. The purpose of the project was to examine the current state of social security provision in China's rural economy, to assess the extent to which existing provision met the needs of the rural population, and to explore the political, institutional and economic feasibility of alternative mechanisms to enhance the security and well-being of China's rural population. It aimed to examine individual, household and community welfare needs and priorities, and to describe the sources of insecurity facing rural households, their main difficulties and their responses or coping mechanisms. The research was carried out in four counties, across three provinces, in east, central and west China.