The paper begins by summarising some of the economic, demographic and social trends that form the backdrop against which social security policies are operating. This is followed by a detailed discussion of the role of research in policy planning in the social security field. Specific issues addressed include the alternative forms and impacts of research on policy, research inputs, the utilisation of research and alternative models of research funding. Some of the discussion draws upon aspects of the SPRC's own experience in conducting policy relevant research within a university environment. The paper finishes with a series of proposals for developing research capability within social security organisations in the Asia and Pacific region.