"Risk" may be a central idea of the early 21st century, just as "globalisation" was the dominant idea of the 1990s. The fact that individuals and families are vulnerable to a wide range of social, economic and other risks -- and that collective action is needed to help reduce and manage these risks -- has long been an important theme in social-democratic thinking.

In the fourth part of a serialised paper first published by the Centre for Policy Development, University of Queensland economist John Quiggin writes that an improved understanding of risk can contribute to the development of a modernised social democratic model.