Rethinking Social Welfare Fraud from a Complex Adaptive Systems Perspective

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6 Scopus citations


Despite efforts to control fraud in public assistance programs, the perception and realities of the problem persist. Serious barriers related to data collection and research methods impede the understanding of how and why fraud occurs, thereby limiting options for improving program integrity. This article argues that based on a complex adaptive systems (CAS) perspective, social welfare fraud can be understood as a collective outcome emerging from repeated interactions among stakeholders during the routinized business processes of public assistance programs. While dealing with fraud, great attention must be paid to how it occurs and persists, not just how serious the problem is or who commits these crimes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-100
Number of pages23
JournalAdministration and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • agent-based modeling
  • complex adaptive systems
  • social welfare fraud

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


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