Friday, November 9, 2007

Legal age of 21 for alcohol?

Interesting question here from an AS AQA paper

Evaluate the case that raising the legal drinking age to 21 will be more effective than other methods for reducing the harmful effects of alcohol. (15 marks) AQA unit 3


I answered here:

Should drinking age be increased to 21 in UK?

The interesting thing is that the question is more a test of general knowledge rather than economic theory.

Of course, in America, many states already have a legal drinking age of 21. In fact within living memory the US experimented with complete prohibition. ( This is generally regarded as a failure; this is because it failed to stop people drinking, but, provided a great opportunity for organised crime to make significant profits.)

The other argument is to look at the continent where there is a much laxer attitude to alcohol. For example, in France, Spain and Germany, it is quite common for children to start drinking in moderation from the age of 12. This culture of drinking from an early age, seems to avoid the extremes we see in the UK and US. Because children drink from an early age there is less peer pressure to get hopelessly drunk.

However, if we did reduce the drinking age to 14, it would probably just make the situation worse. It is hard for the government to alter long standing social attitudes.

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