The British Academy Lecture, delivered by Professor Mervyn King FBA, Governor of the Bank of England, on 1 December 2004.
Risk, luck, fate, uncertainty, probability theory – all remind us that most decisions in life involve risk. We accept that lady luck has her part to play in our personal lives. But in our collective life the role of probabilities only rarely takes centre stage. Yet it is difficult to imagine an informed and useful discussion of most public policy issues without a careful analysis of the risks involved. This lecture discusses why it has proved difficult in collective decisions to understand, explain and manage risk. It takes as an example the current debate on pension provision in the United Kingdom.