Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Five types of complexity.

Spicker, Paul


Paul Spicker


This article describes five types of complexity in the operation of social security benefits. The first is intrinsic complexity: some benefits are complex in their concept, structure or operation. The second is extrinsic: systems become complicated when several benefits or agencies have to be dealt with. Third, there are complex rules. Some are imposed for administrative reasons, but there may also be some 'conditionality', including moral conditions and rules about rationing. Fourth, there are complex management systems, including the proliferation of agencies and the problems of information management. Finally, there is complexity that arises through the situation of claimants. Benefits which try to adjust to people's changing circumstances require elaborate rules and procedures, and they are always slightly out of step. If we want to simplify benefits, we need to focus on conditionality, administrative rules and management procedures. Some aspects of complexity, however, are unavoidable.


SPICKER, P. 2005. Five types of complexity. Benefits, 13(1), pages 5-9.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 28, 2005
Online Publication Date Feb 28, 2005
Publication Date Dec 31, 2005
Deposit Date Sep 9, 2013
Publicly Available Date Sep 9, 2013
Journal Benefits
Print ISSN 0962-7898
Publisher Policy Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Issue 1
Pages 5-9
Keywords Social security benefits; Agencies; Complex systems; Claimants
Public URL
Publisher URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations