General Question

mattbrowne's avatar

Why is the legal minimum drinking age in the United States higher than in Europe?

Asked by mattbrowne (31719points) March 29th, 2009

The legal drinking age refers to the minimum age when a person is legally allowed to purchase and consume alcoholic beverages in his or her home country. Drinking ages vary greatly around the world, from countries in Europe where people may consume alcoholic beverages as young as 16 or 17, to states in India where the drinking age is as high as 25. In the US the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 states that revenue will be withheld from states that allow the purchase of alcohol by anyone under the age of 21. Prior to the effective date of that Act, the drinking age varied from state to state. Some states do not allow those under the legal drinking age to be present in liquor stores or in bars (usually, the difference between a bar and a restaurant is whether food is being served). Contrary to popular belief, since the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984, few states specifically prohibit minors’ and young adults’ consumption of alcohol in private settings. As of January 1, 2007, 14 states and the District of Columbia ban underage consumption outright, 19 states do not specifically ban underage consumption, and an additional 17 states have family member and/or location exceptions to their underage consumption laws. Federal law explicitly provides for religious, medical, employment and private club possession exceptions; as of 2005, 31 states have family member and/or location exceptions to their underage possession laws. However, non-alcoholic beer in many (but not all)states, some including California, Idaho, Texas, and Maryland, is considered legal for minors (those under the age of 21).

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11 Answers

Zen's avatar

That’s what Montreal is for.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Zen – They serve beer to people age 18?

jo_with_no_space's avatar

Cultural and legal differences?

essieness's avatar

That’s a good question. You can die for your country but you can’t buy a beer. Hmm.

qashqai's avatar

Because, since is forbidden, people start drinking before and the alcohol lobbies are happy.

mattbrowne's avatar

@essieness – Yes, there’s a lack of consistency here. Maybe the legal age for dying for your country should be raised to 21 years. Will the violent folks in Iraq and Afghanistan stick to that?

Zen's avatar

@mattbrowne Hey buddy. You know why they draft at such a young age, eh? Once they are older, have gotten a degree or trade, maybe even settled down, no way anyone’s gonna join the army. They get ‘em “young and stupid.”

No offense to the military people – I was one myself. It’s just biology.

cwilbur's avatar

The United States is where Puritanism took root, and where Prohibition actually existed. It started out as a great social and religious experiment, and some of the aspects of it failed miserably, though vestiges remain.

Facade's avatar

US children are irresponsible and out of control.

adreamofautumn's avatar

I was going to go through the “puritanical beliefs” arguement, but @cwilbur beat me to it! I am pretty sure that plays a big role in a lot of the decisions we make in this country.

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