I’dÂ always been somewhat agnostic about the right drinking age – butÂ now Jeff Miron (libertarianÂ andÂ ex-blogger) and Elina Tetelbaum have suggested that perhaps Australia’s 18 is better than the US’s 21.
Does the Minimum Legal Drinking Age Save Lives?
Jeffrey A. Miron &Â Elina TetelbaumÂ
The minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) is widely believed to save lives by reducing traffic fatalities among underage drivers.Â Further, the Federal Uniform Drinking Age Act, which pressured all states to adopt an MLDA of 21, is regarded as having contributed enormously to this life saving effect.Â This paper challenges both claims.Â State-level panel data for the past 30 years show that any nationwide impact of the MLDA is driven by states that increased their MLDA prior to any inducement from the federal government.Â Even in early adopting states, the impact of the MLDA did not persist much past the year of adoption.Â The MLDA appears to have only a minor impact on teen drinking.
Of course, the natural question to ask now is whether Miron and Tetelbaum think there should be a minimum drinking age at all.