Change the Legal Drinking Age?

After the National Minimum Drinking Age Act went into effect in 1984, the minimum legal age for purchasing alcohol was raised to 21 for every state in the U.S. The readings for this week and for Week 7 (see Gruenewald [2011]) describe some of the apparent consequences of this alcohol-control policy. Alcohol use and alcohol-related problems have steadily declined for the past several decades and the rate of teenage drinking is lower in the U.S. than in most European nations. These and other epidemiological patterns and trends have led some observers to argue that the legal alcohol purchase age should be even higher, perhaps 25 years old or more. On the other hand, many other people argue that the current drinking age is unnecessarily high and unfair to young people, and that it should be lowered again to 18 or 19 in the U.S. What do you think? Should the legal drinking age be raised, lowered, or remain the same? In 200 words or more, state your position on this issue and use evidence from readings to support your views about the consequences of changing the legal drinking age.

Your replies should also refer to material from the assigned readings for this week or last week.

Philip J. Cook (2008), “Drinking: A Primer.” Paying the Tab: The Costs and Benefits of Alcohol Control, Ch. 4

Megan E. Patrick and John E. Schulenberg (2013), “Prevalence and Predictors of Adolescent Alcohol Use and Binge Drinking in the United States.” Alcohol Research 35: 193-200

Karen G. Chartier et al. (2013), “Ethnicity and the Social and Health Harms from Drinking.” Alcohol Research 35: 229-237

Genevieve Ames and Carol Conradi (2004/2005), “Alcohol Use and Preventing Alcohol-Related Problems Among Young Adults in the Military.” Alcohol Research and Health 28: 252-257