For many, July 17 is a reasonably anti-climactic day. (Except you occur to say this date as a birthday, by which case, woo! Cue the confetti and streamers.) Unbeknownst to many, nevertheless, one thing did occur again in 1984 that impacts lots of us: The Nationwide Minimal Consuming Age Act was handed, establishing the authorized ingesting age at 21.
Though that age may appear kind of random (possibly even arbitrary) because you’re a authorized grownup at 18, Congress didn’t simply choose the quantity out of a hat. There’s a protracted and storied historical past about alcohol in America, and why the authorized ingesting age is ready at 21.
Earlier than 1984, some states had the authorized ingesting age set at 18, 19, or 20.
On the finish of Prohibition within the Thirties, the authorized ingesting age was 21. This benchmark held regular till 1971, when the minimal voting age was dropped to 18 and buzz started to construct for a discount within the minimal authorized ingesting age, as nicely. Between 1970 and 1975, almost half the states dropped the ingesting age to 18, 19, and 20.
However the authorized ingesting age wasn’t set over medical causes.
“None of this had any medical or psychological foundation, however needed to do with rights and tasks afforded to folks outlined as ‘adults,’” Alix Caster, MD, a pediatric physician with Orlando Well being Associates, tells Teen Vogue. “Particularly, it was believed by most that if an 18-year-old was sufficiently old to be drafted to struggle within the Vietnam Conflict, he was sufficiently old to vote and to drink.”
Nevertheless, because the authorized ingesting age fell throughout the nation within the ‘70s, alarm bells began to go off, notes licensed medical psychologist Suzette Glasner-Edwards, PhD, an adjunct affiliate professor at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Conduct. “Analysis proof after that point strongly steered that a rise in visitors accidents amongst younger folks was linked with this downward shift within the minimal authorized ingesting age,” she explains to Teen Vogue. “Consequently, a residents’ effort started prompting states to re-establish 21 because the minimal authorized age.”
The ingesting age was raised again to 21 over federal freeway funding.
In 1984, the Nationwide Minimal Consuming Age Act handed, which said federal freeway funds could be withheld from U.S. states that didn’t set the minimal authorized ingesting age again at 21. By 1988, all of the states had adopted the age minimal.
The USA has one of many highest minimal authorized ingesting ages on the planet.
Together with Iceland, Japan, and South Korea, the U.S. is one in all just some developed international locations to have a minimal authorized ingesting age over 18, in line with the World Well being Group. The truth is, in some international locations like Belgium and Germany, 16-year-olds are allowed to buy alcohol. Nevertheless, the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention suggests there’s been a 16% decline in annual visitors fatalities on account of setting the minimal authorized ingesting age again to 21 — amounting to roughly 800 saved lives per yr, in line with the American Journal of Public Well being. Apparently, protecting alcohol farther from younger folks additionally appears to have an effect on class attendance; in contrast with states that had a authorized ingesting age of 18, college students have been 13 occasions extra prone to keep at school when the authorized ingesting age within the state was 21.