Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Literature Review #2: Effects of Minimum Drinking Age Laws

Wagenaar, Alexander. "Effects of Minimum Drinking Age Laws: Review and Analyses of the Literature from 1960 to 2000." Effects of Minimum Drinking Age Laws. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 2002. Web. 10 Nov. 2015. <http://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/supportingresearch/journal/wagenaar.aspx>.

This article is a study published by the Journal of Studies on Alcohol. This is an extensive analysis of laws that pertain to the minimum legal drinking age. The MLDA was established in 1984 and by 1988, all states complied with the 21 year old drinking age law. Wagenaar goes on to show with quantitative data that the switch to a minimum age of 21 was the most effective effort to date in reducing teenage underage drinking. In addition, the end of the publication also lists a number of common complaints about the MLDA 21, to which Wagenaar responds with facts pulled from the studies and from everyday life.

Alexander Wagenaar is a professor of Health Outcomes and Policy at the University of Florida College of Medicine (Wikipedia). His work on the effects of alcohol and alcohol laws have been referenced in major publications and media outlets like CNN, USA Today, and NBC News.

MLDA- Minimum legal drinking age. This law was created in 1984 and mandated a minimum age of 21 for alcohol consumption

Inverse Relationship- An inverse relationship exists between the MLDA and the rate of alcohol consumption among teenagers. This means that as one goes up, the other goes down. As the MLDA is raised to 21, teenage drinking drops.

"Compared with a wide range of other programs and efforts to reduce drinking among teenagers, increasing the legal age for purchase and consumption of alcohol to 21 appears to have been the most successful effort to date"

"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."

"Issue. 'If teens can't get alcohol, they'll just switch to other, perhaps even more dangerous, drugs.'

Response. Research shows that the opposite is true; teens who drink and/or smoke are more likely also to use other drugs (Fell, 1985; Kandel et al., 1992). If we can keep youth from using alcohol and tobacco, we can actually reduce the chance that they will try other illegal drugs. Moreover, when the drinking age was raised to 21, and teen drinking declined, there was no evidence of a compensatory increase in other drug use (O'Malley and Wagenaar, 1991)."

This article is useful to me because it finally puts to rest, using analysis of quantitative data, the issue of the minimum legal drinking age of 21. I'm going to reference this when writing about the government's successful and unsuccessful attempts at reducing teenage drinking.

  • "Alexander Wagenaar." Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 25 July 2015. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

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