The Solution to the Drinking Age
Age 21 minimum drinking laws are counterproductive. There is much evidence that lowering the drinking age to 18 would reduce the abuse of alcohol among minors. The U.S. has the strictest youth drinking laws in western civilization and yet has the most drinking-related problems among its youth, and there seems to be a connection between these two facts.
Today, scientific evidence supports the fact that the early introduction of drinking is the safest way to reduce juvenile alcohol abuse. Young people in France, Spain, and Argentina rarely abuse alcohol. They learn how to drink within the family, which sees drinking in moderation as natural and normal. Youth in these societies rarely embarrass themselves or their families by abusing alcohol. In Portugal and New Zealand there are no minimum drinking age requirements. In Belgium, most of Canada, Italy, and Spain, you can start to drink with your parents when you turn 16. Australia and South Africa have an 18-year minimum.
Researchers have pointed out that minimum drinking age laws in the U.S. are a post-Prohibition phenomenon. Prior to the repeal of the Eighteenth amendment, state laws prohibiting minors from possession or use of alcohol were unusual. Adolescent alcohol consumption was regulated by the informal controls of family, community, peers, and self-restraint. The only drinking controls that have enjoyed any success over the centuries are social and cultural constraints.
I continue to witness the fundamental goodness of my friends, and their ability to be adult in their behavior, when given the chance. Despite the dissolution of the nuclear family, the vast majority of youth in America is well-intentioned and honest citizens. The logic of minimum drinking age laws denies us that basic respect. Research has found that restricting access to alcohol doesn’t lower its consumption among young people. It just drives it "underground" into undesirable locations that aren't subject...