U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre

This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from a U4 Partner Agency. The U4 Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International in collaboration with the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre based at the Chr. Michelsen Institute.


What are the most significant corruption risks within social protection systems? How can an anti-corruption and integrity approaches contribute to strengthening social protection systems?


Corruption in social protection is multifaceted, encompassing political patronage, fraud in eligibility documentation and wasteful expenditures. In corrupt contexts, spending in education, healthcare and social protection declines, often disproportionately burning women, migrants and informal economy workers. Its impacts extend to poverty, inequality and an erosion of public trust. Evidence signals a recent shift to preventive anti-corruption strategies, blending traditional measures with emerging technologies such as big data and artificial intelligence.

Main points

  • Social protection spending is significantly reduced in corrupt contexts. Petty pribery, collusion, clientelism and embezzlement are among the main forms of corruption affecting social protection schemes in LMICs.
  • The impact of corruption in social protection systems has severe implications on poverty and inequality levels and public trust in state institutions. Women, migrants, displaced persons and informal economy workers who rely heavily on public services are often disproportionately affected.
  • Evidence suggests a recent shift from punitive measures to preventive approaches. Best practices in curbing corruption in social protection systems point to use of emerging technologies along with traditional integrity and accountability tools such as legal frameworks, risk management systems, internal and external audits, whistleblowing or community and citizen engagement.


  1. The nature of social protection systems in LMICs
  2. Corruption in social protection systems in LMICs
  3. Corruption risks in social protection systems in LMICs
  4. Impact of corruption on social protection systems in LMICs
  5. Best practices in anti-corruption in the field of social protection References


Vaclav Prusa


Daniel Sejerøe Hausenkamph (U4)

Matthew Jenkins, Caitlin Maslen, Jamie Bergin (TI)




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