POLICY STUDIES

MLDA

The poster child for alcohol regulation in the U.S. is the minimum legal drinking age (MLDA). Up until 1984, states in the U.S. had established different minimum ages at which alcohol could be purchased from retail outlets. Among states which allowed alcohol sales, some established the MLDA at 18, others at 21, some at 18 for beer and 21 for liquor, and so forth. In general, increases in the minimum legal drinking age have been shown to reduce alcohol use and related problems among young people and moderate problems later in life. PRC's contribution to this important body of work has been to demonstrate the moderating effects of taxes on the effectiveness of minimum age constraints1 and begin to examine the impacts of MLDA laws on use of drinking contexts and related risks.2

References cited:

  1. Ponicki, W.R.; Gruenewald, P.J.; and LaScala, E.A. The joint impacts of minimum legal drinking age and beer taxes on U.S. youth traffic fatalities, 1975-2001. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 31, 804-813, 2007. PMID:17391342
  2. Treno, A.J.; Ponicki, W.R.; Huckle, T.; Yeh, L.C.; Casswell, S.; and Gruenewald, P.J. (2015) Impacts of New Zealand's lowered minimum purchase age on drinking patterns and use of drinking contexts. Addiction, 110, 1757–1766. PMCID: PMC4609246