ANSWERS: 31
  • It was because when the drinking age was legally 18 there were more DUIs and deaths attributed to drinking. By raising the legal drinking age to 21, then the US govt. was hoping to curb those dreadful statistics. Here's an excerpt from Questia.com, which supports my answers: "Effects of minimum drinking age laws: review and analyses of the literature from 1960 to 2000 by Alexander C. Wagenaar , Traci L. Toomey THE MINIMUM legal drinking age (MLDA) is the most well-studied alcohol control policy in the United States (Wagenaar and Toomey, 2000). The intention of this policy is to lower alcohol use and its associated problems among youth. Following Prohibition, most states established an age21 MLDA. During the early 1970s, a trend toward lowering the MLDA to age 18, 19 or 20 began in the United States, providing many natural experiments. As a result of research evidence indicating that traffic crashes among youth increased following lowering of the legal age, a citizens' effort began urging states to raise the MLDA back to age 21. In 1984, the federal government enacted the Uniform Drinking Age Act, which provided for the withholding of federal highway funds from states that failed to increase their MLDA (King and Dudar, 1987). By 1988, all states had established an age-21 MLDA. The increase in MLDA across multiple states again provided researchers with many natural experiments to assess effects of these policy changes on alcohol consumption and related problems among youth. Despite this long history, the debate over the MLDA continues. Part of this debate is whether the age-21 MLDA is really effective in reducing alcohol-related problems. This debate is particularly relevant to college campuses because the majority of students on many campuses are under age 21. Some college administrators argue that the age-21 law has caused more problems on college campuses, not less (Lonnstrom, 1985). To determine the overall effect of the age-21 MLDA on youth, including college-age students, the existing research literature should be critically reviewed. The purpose of this review is to summarize all studies available in the peer-reviewed published literature over the past four decades that evaluated the effects of public policies establishing a legal minimum age for purchase and/or consumption of alcoholic beverages. Most studies assessed effects of the MLDA on consumption and alcohol-related problems among all those under age 21--college students and those not in college. Some MLDA studies specifically assessed effects of MLDA changes on college students alone. Given the current discussions on college campuses, we provide a review of the college studies in addition to a summary of the overall MLDA literature. A second objective of this article is to describe key issues in public debates regarding MLDA policies. Method We obtained all identified published studies on the drinking age from 1960 to 1999, a total of 132 documents. Comprehensive searches were conducted of four databases to identify studies of interest: ETOH (1960-1999 [National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism's alcohol and alcohol problems science database]), MEDLINE (1966-1999), Current Contents (1994-1999) and Social Science Abstracts (1983-1999). The entire record for each document was included in the search; thus, any record with any search term in the title, keywords, subject headings, descriptors or abstract fields was identified. Search terms used for each database were as follows (where * is the truncation indicator to include all forms of the root word): * ETOH: (minimum age OR drinking age OR purchase age OR legal age OR MDA OR MLDA) OR ([teen* OR adolescen* OR young OR college* OR youth* OR student* OR underage* OR minor*] AND [sale* OR enforce* OR deterrence* OR avail* OR access* OR crackdown OR ID OR identification OR compliance]) * MEDLINE and Current Contents: (minimum age OR drinking age OR purchase age OR legal age OR MLDA) OR ([teen* OR adolescen* OR young OR college* OR youth OR student* OR underage* OR minor*] AND [sale* OR enforce* OR deterrence* OR avail* OR access* OR crackdown OR ID OR identification OR compliance]) * Social Science Abstracts: (minimum age OR drinking age OR purchase age OR legal age OR MDA OR MLDA) In addition, two previous literature reviews were used to identify relevant studies (Wagenaar, 1983a, 1993). We obtained and reviewed the original document for each study and coded eight key variables for each study. These variables include the jurisdiction studied (i.e., state or province), specific outcome measures analyzed (e.g., self-reported drinking, car crash fatalities) and whether the study was specific to college student populations. In addition, three key indicators of methodological quality were coded for each study. The first is sampling design, distinguishing lower quality nonprobability sampling versus higher quality probability sampling or census data. The second quality indicator is the research or study design, with lower quality studies consisting of cross-sectional (one time-point) observations only versus higher quality studies that used pre-post (one observation before a policy change and one after), longitudinal (more than 2 but fewer than 20 repeated observations) or time-series (20 or more repeated observations over time) designs. The third quality indicator is whether some form of comparison group was used; studies with no comparison groups are of low quality. Finally, we coded whether the findings were statistically significant. If the results were significant, we coded the direction of the relationship between legal age for drinking and a specific outcome measure. Effects of drinking age on alcohol consumption We located 48 published studies that assessed the effects of changes in the legal minimum drinking age on indicators of alcohol consumption (Table 1). In the 48 studies, a total of 78 alcohol consumption outcome measures were analyzed (e.g., sales figures, self-reported drinking). Of the 78 analyses, 27 (35%) found a statistically significant inverse relationship between the legal drinking age and alcohol consumption; that is, as the legal age was lowered, drinking increased, and as the legal age was raised, drinking decreased. An additional 8 analyses that found an inverse relationship did not report significance levels. Of the 78 analyses, only 5 found a positive relationship between the legal drinking age and consumption. In short, 45% of all analyses found that a higher legal drinking age is associated with reduced alcohol consumption. Of the 78 analyses of alcohol consumption, 21 were the weaker cross-sectional designs, and 57 were pre-post, longitudinal or time-series designs. Of the 21 cross-sectional analyses, 8 (38%) found a significant inverse relationship between legal drinking age and alcohol consumption, whereas only... " cited source: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5000781023&er=deny
  • It doesn't make sense that the drinking age in the US is 21, but 18 for practically everything else. It's 18 [or even lower] in most other western nations.
  • "why are we allowed to drink at 21, but not smoke marijuana?" I think its just one of those thangs.... But just so you know. The drinking age has been lowered for those in military active duty on military bases. So if you're 20 and want to drink legally, join the military!
  • I think if your in the service you should be aloud.
  • Yeah, yeah, yeah. I said the same thing when I was your age ans in the military. The fact of the matter was that it never stopped me from walking into just about any bar in the world and ordering an adult beverage. The law is the law, but bartenders bend the rules for patriots. Thank you for your service.
  • I wonder the same thing. If u r willing to fight or die for your country, by all means u should be able to have a beer.
  • The voting age is a matter of national law, while smoking and drinking ages are set by the states. So individual states vary: in California, the drinking age is 21 and the smoking age 18. If you go around the nation, you'll find other variations. The reason for this is that the US historically is "loosely bound" -- i.e. a bunch of states glued together rather than a single nation partitioned into states. States were generally independent entities of some sort before they joined the union: they actually had to apply for membership. Part of that whole relationship is the notion that states have rights that they keep even while they're members of the union. The original founders were nervous about concentrating too much power in the hands of a national government.
  • Survival instints is in all of us, but to get drunk and act like fools is what most 18 olds do.
  • That is the 64 million dollar question. We've been questioning that one for many many years! +5
  • I agree. It should be the same age for all those things you mentioned in every country.
  • Americans are crazy. And not to mention that 18 year olds can die for their country but not drink alcohol. Simple- we Americans are crazy.
  • I guess it isnt fair.... maybe they shouldnt be able to do anything else till their 21
  • Some military bases allow underage recruits to drink.
  • Its a load of crap I know. I got an Article 15 for buying underage soldiers alcohol. After I finished my restriction and extra duty I proceeded to do it again. If a Soldier Marine, Sailor, or Airmen wants to drink a beer damn it buy that trooper a drink I don't care what age they are.
  • Ruin your lives earlier. great idea..more idiot drunks walking around. I was an alcoholic from 15 through 40... I know you won't believe me till you fuck your own life up, but it's not worth it.
  • Leaving aside the stupidity and hypocrisy behind the dichotomy, the legal METHOD (how they get away with it) is much more interesting. As an "adult" an 18 year old is "free" to make such decisions for himself, including whether or not to drink and how much. No law can forbid this directly, and it would be unconstitutional if it did. Instead, they find back door approaches. While States can't legislate against a class of people on the basis of age (if you're 18, you're an adult, and free to drink) they have other means of hemming people in, indirectly, through the power of contracts. That is, there is no single law in any State that makes it a crime for an 18 year-old to consume alcohol. The way it's effectively illegalized is this: In 1980, the Federal Government forced the States to raise the drinking age to 21 (those that weren't already there) by holding their highway money hostage if they did not. The State issues liquor licenses to public establishments, and can place whatever terms or restrictions on those licenses it wishes. The States made one of the terms that the licensee NOT sell or serve alcohol to any person under the age of 21. Thus, the violation here is the "crime" of the establishment, not the 18-20 year-old being served. This was initially the only law in place in the States governing the issue. Increasingly after 1992, various States with a Secretary of State wanting to look tough on "teen drinking" and enjoying being a petty tyrant, implemented a number of policies - none of them enacted by the legislature, but within their legal authority as Secretary of State to establish certain policies. First among these was the prohibition of under-21 drinking on State property and on the property of all State contractors and recipients of special State aid and patronage. This included not only all State Colleges, but all colleges that received State aid of any kind, including those with students on State and Federal guaranteed loans ... i.e., all of them. But then they went further. The SecStates of most States have added terms to the Driver's license contract. If you're under 21 with a driver's license from such a State, and you drink, you're in breach of contract. If you're 21+ and serve alcohol to anyone under 21, and you're license is from such a State, then you too are in breach. By applying for and accepting a license, you have not only agreed not to do these things, you have also waived your rights, giving the SecState's office the right to fine you, even jail you, expel you from State college, revoke any and all State aid, grants, and the like - not to mention revoke your license - at its discretion should you violate the terms of the driver's license contract that you willingly entered into. Moral of the story: get your license from Arizona or Arkansas (the only 2 states I know of that don't do this to one degree or another, and even they may have fallen into despotism since last checked a few years ago) and never accept any "aid" or "privilege" or contract with any other State.
  • Some people think both driver license and drinking ages are still too low.
  • i agree is not right they can die for us but cannot have drink !
  • For the protection of the public. Alcohol affects behavior, reflexes, mental ability, etc. Does this all magically change when you turn 21? Probably not, but the additional maturity probably helps with moderation. Most adults don't drink like they do on college campuses (and yes, some of those folks are 21, but most are not).
  • Good point +5
  • The old argument doesn't hold true. If your old enough to die you're old enough to drink. Solution: let people with a VALID military ID drink and if you screw up you PAY the price to the UCMJ. If you're civilian either join up or stay sober till your 40..OK..25.. That would solve several problems at once now wouldn't it?
  • I know that NY (and NJ I think) Drunk driving accidents for teenagers between 18 and 21 was cut by a FULL three quarters! . Sounds like a good law to me!
  • It depends on what state you live in. There are local laws about such things and if you live in a "DRY" county you cant buy any alcohol even if you are 50! If you cant buy a beer at the age of 18 then your state or county has passed the law...not the united states of america.
  • Because in the 1980s the 21 drinking age idea was "marketed" as good, so basically it was artificially raised.
  • Not sure. Pretty stupid though. If someone isn't trusted to be responsible enough to drink, then they shouldn't be trusted to be responsible enough to risk their life for their country.
  • A fine question, I agree! Been wondering that for a great many years, like about since the age was first raised to 19. And as ol' Maxwell Smart used to say "Missed it by THAT much!" I WAS however grandfathered in when I reached 19 and they then raised it to 21.
  • Because you have fulls who set the laws.
  • well you can thank our double standard government. how about this,why can you drink a liquid and get high but you can't inhale a vapor and get high. why can your neighbor get enerything free(foodstamps,meds.transportation,clothing,ETC.ETC.ETC.) and you can't. why does every one worry about what Alfred E. Obama's wife is wearing but don't care about all our boys and girls getting killed over seas?Why,Why,Why.... never ending. Well Alfred E. Obama did'nt cause all this,He aint helping it either. also i don't give a darn if my grammer is good or bad.
  • When the baby boomers were young, by sheer force of their numbers they got some rights for youths including voting eligibility at 18. At that time some states lowered the legal drinking age as well. By the early 1980s organizations such as mothers against drunk driving (MADD) lobbied for a later drinking age because of bloody and fatal accidents involving drunk youths. Since most 18 year olds do not vote, MADD got its way. Furthermore, MADD got it pushed through that states would be denied their share of already-paid federal highway funds if they did not go along with the age 21 minimum. http://www.dui.com/dui-library/victims/personal-tragedy http://www.activistcash.com/organization_overview.cfm/oid/17
  • Ask your christian buddies.
  • I have also wondered that many times with no answer that seems reasonable anyway. My personal opinion is that the age that one is officially an adult should be 21 and not 18. Or maybe even 20. Not while your still a teen.

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