Should We Lower the Drinking Age?

At Penn State, drinking is a huge part of the social culture. I mean, every year we are voted within the top party schools in the nation. But the life of debauchery associated with the fine students at Penn State is not unique to us: it is an issue that plagues every state in the United States. College students and young adults often get a bad rap for underage drinking and endangering themselves by putting themselves situations where drinking occurs. I believe that this issue is not to be blamed on the quality of America’s youth, but on the legal age of drinking being set at 21.

Before the drinking age was raised to 21 in 1984, individuals were able to buy beer and wine at the age of 18 and liquor at 21, according to an article by Boston. Drinking in the USA has a tumultuous history, but the main reason the age was raised to 21 was because of drunk driving statistics. CNN reported that before 1984, a majority of drunk driving incidents were attributed to 16 to 21 year olds. The solution to this, according to our lovely United States government, was to simply raise the legal drinking age to 21. We all know that has not stopped young adults from partaking in the illicit beverage.imgres

These drunk driving statistics were not enough for some people, though. Soon individuals began to inquire as to whether or not underage drinking could be detrimental to a young adult’s development. To this I say, look to almost every other country in the world where the drinking age typically hovers around 16 to 18 ( There is little evidence that these countries, who have less of a taboo on drinking and instead educate their youths on how to drink responsibility, have stunted mental development due to drinking (Indiana).


Drinking begins to effect biological factors, such as mental development, once binging occurs. Binging is rampant in the US drinking culture and is iconic in the college partying scene. Just look at dear old Penn State, where basically every weekend is a revelry of cheap vodka and beer. The studies conducted by Indiana University point out that from an early age, people are taught that drinking is bad instead of how to drink in a responsible manner. This is similar to how we as a nation teach sex, where abstinence is the best policy. In actuality, addressing our problems in this was just breeds ignorance and does more harm than good. Because young adults do not know how to drink appropriately and in moderation, once they are exposed to it they are more likely to binge and make inappropriate decisions that could endanger their health.

biggest-drinking-country-franceMultiple studies have been conducted which show that drinking in moderation has no effect on the developing mind. Binge drinking, which occurs mostly in those below 21, is incredibly bad for the body and mind of young adults. This points to an issue in education of how to drink appropriately. Therefore, if the United States got their act together and realized that ignoring social issues such as teen drinking is not a wise way of solving problems, we could begin to solve this plaguing social issue that imparts a bad reputation on the youth of America. Based on the various studies conducted throughout the years, I believe that if we educated ourselves and made a conscious effort, it would be possible to lower the drinking age. There are many arguments against this stance, but through education on drinking and an approachable attitude in regards to information on alcohol, there could be significant improvement in the drinking habits of young Americans.


Why 21? A Look at Our Nation’s Drinking Age

5 thoughts on “Should We Lower the Drinking Age?

  1. Julia Rose Gallelli


    I find this post really interesting, as I am sure most if not all of the class does. Penn State, while known as a great learning institution, has the reputation of being a big party school. To be completely honest, most of our weekend nights do consist of, like you said, “cheap vodka and beer.” We’ve all put up with natty and we’ve all taken a swing and dance with good ol Vlad. But we’ve all had nights where we’ve had just a little too much because we’ve, once again, tested our limits one drink too far.

    So why on earth should the drinking age be lowered people are probably wondering? Well, I don’t necessarily think it should be. I am also not so sure that it should not be. I have dappled with this idea a few times before and never really reached an opinion. So my stance is this:

    I think that teaching young adults how to drink responsibly as opposed to just shaming it would go a much longer way. I think we as a society learn better by learning how to do things in moderation. In this day and age, shaming certain behaviors that aren’t necessarily all that bad is what attracts more people to want to do them. Rebellion is attractive for many. And for those people, breaking the law is not really a concern- it is a pleasure. However, I do not think that because drinking underage is illegal, that is why people choose to drink. People who want to drink want to drink whether it is illegal or not. I personally do not believe that lowering the drinking will decrease the amount of kids that drink.

    For your interest, here is an article that discusses the predicted outcome of lowering the drinking age. Washington University School of Medicine conducted a study on this popular topic and found that lowering the drinking age would increase the amount of binge drinkers.

    Overall, I thought your post was well organized, sufficiently supported, and an interesting read. Great job!

  2. Tyler Mitchell Azar

    I completely agree with you that destigmatizing alcohol in this country would do wonders for making it less of a problem for young people. My dad was in his early 20s when the raise in drinking age was passed. He says that almost everyone drank, but with far more responsibility than there is today. If alcohol were legal at 18 or 16 instead of 21, kids would definitely be less inclined to drink to excess because it wouldn’t be taboo to have a few drinks. This article touches more on the stigma surrounding drinking with underage kids and why lowering the drinking age would be a very good thing for combating binge drinking.

  3. Taryn S Linker

    Upon reading the article, I believe that the drinking age should indeed be lowered as children now under the drinking age still participate in drinking, especially in college. If the age was to be lowered, a lot of problems can be prevented from happening in the first place. For example, my friend made a poor choice to not take his girlfriend to the emergency room when she was incoherent from drinking too much because he was afraid of the consequences of it being revealed that they both were drinking underage. Having a high drinking age encourages children to drink at an earlier age as well as it increases peer pressure as many will partake in underage drinking to fit in or feel socially accepted amongst their peers (some of whom may find it thrilling to break the law). The drinking age was increased due to the high traffic fatalities, however, since underage drinking still exists, the possibility of traffic fatalities occurring is still the same and the high drinking age actually increases the possibility of other alcohol related deaths such as suicide. Many college presidents also believe that the drinking age should be lowered as students still drink underage. Giving out citations for underage drinking at parties does not change the fact that they will indeed do it again. Instead, the next time they do it, they will try to not get caught which can be very dangerous. Conclusively, I believe that the drinking age should be lowered to cut out many of the problems we see today. Here is an article from CNN that talks about whether the drinking age should be lowered:

  4. Beom Joon Lee

    As I was reading this post, I feel that the drinking age should be lowered. Just because the drinking age is high, does not mean it will stop teenagers from drinking. If anything, it would encourage teenagers to start drinking early due to their rebellious nature. According to Dwight Heath, younger people who live in countries where the drinking age is lower are safer when it comes to drinking. This Brown University Professor feels that when drinking is introduced at at a younger age, younger people would feel more casual and unexcited about it. It is something that they would be used to which will not be a big deal to them. In countries where the drinking age is lower, parents will have a better opportunity of educating their child about alcohol.

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