17 April 2013
As most people living in the United States already know, the national minimum age for purchasing alcohol is twenty-one. However, prior to the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984, some states lowered the drinking age below 21 (mainly as a result of the lowered voting age). The Drinking Age Act was put into place as a result of a correlation between young drinking and motor vehicle fatalities. Under the provisions of the Act, any states with a minimum drinking age below 21 are subject to a 10% cut in highway funding from the federal government. The United States is one of only a few countries with a drinking age as high as 21; the majority of countries around the world set it at 18. With that in mind, should the national drinking age in the United States be lowered from 21 to 18? If so, what are the potential risks and benefits? To answer these questions, I will identify four stakeholders within the United States and analyze their positions. The stakeholders are: adults between the ages of 18 and 21, the government (both federal and state), alcohol companies, and universities.
The first stakeholders are adults between 18 and 21 years of age. I interviewed a 19-year-old college student who stated, “it’s often seen as an awkward age range because, although considered legal adults, people in this age group cannot purchase alcohol” (Roberts). It is no secret that adults in this age group break the law by purchasing and consuming alcohol, often in unhealthy amounts. The main reason why the alcohol age is 21 in the United States is the high rate of motor vehicle fatalities for 18 to 20 year olds with a lowered drinking age. Nevertheless, young adults, mainly in college, are in favor of lowering the drinking age, “alcohol consumption for young adults is often seen as enhancing a social experience and makes it easier to have a fun time” (Roberts). With a higher drinking age, many...