Raise the drinking age to 21 or lose 10 percent of your federal highway funds.
That’s what Congress told state governments in 1984. And all 50 states raised the drinking to age 21.
College presidents and chancellors who support the Amethyst Initiative say the federal government’s efforts to reduce drinking among youth failed, especially among college students. They say:
A culture of dangerous, clandestine “binge-drinking”—often conducted off-campus—has developed.
Alcohol education that mandates abstinence as the only legal option has not resulted in significant constructive behavioral change among our students.
Adults under 21 are deemed capable of voting, signing contracts, serving on juries and enlisting in the military, but are told they are not mature enough to have a beer.
By choosing to use fake IDs, students make ethical compromises that erode respect for the law.
Some people disagree and say lowering the drinking age will not reduce drinking among college students.
An article published in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs contends that it is unlikely lowering the drinking age would cut drinking (Download 9-page article).
Authors of the article, entitled “Heavy Episodic Drinking on College Campuses: Does Changing the Legal Drinking Age Make a Difference?”, studied data from 32 campuses to reach their conclusion. Lead author Jawail Rasul was quoted as saying:
Since there was no evidence that high misperceptions of peer drinking are the norm, it was highly unlikely that lowering the drinking age would reduce student “heavy episodic” or binge drinking.
Oddly, Rasul is also quoted as saying:
Our goal was to reduce binge or “heavy episodic drinking” among college students.
What does that mean? Shouldn’t researchers’ goal be to find out the truth?
Whatever the case, the drinking age is a controversial subject. What do you think? Would lowering the drinking age reduce binge drinking among young people?
Video: Lower drinking age to 18? (Spring 2011)