How does the legal drinking age influence youth behavior? In a new IZA Discussion Paper, Stefan Boes and Steven Stillman answer this question by examining the impact of a reduction in the legal drinking age in New Zealand from 20 to 18. The authors analyze the effects of the policy change on alcohol use as well as related hospitalizations and traffic accidents among teenagers. The main findings of the paper are that lowering the legal drinking age has not led to an increase in alcohol consumption or binge drinking among 15-17 or 18-19 year-olds. While there is a significant relative increase in alcohol-related hospital admission rates for both age groups, the absolute number of affected teenagers is small. The study finds no evidence for an increase in alcohol-related vehicular accidents at the time of the law change for any teenagers. The authors also explain why a commonly used approach to estimate the impact of changes in the legal drinking age may give misleading results. Based on their findings, they support the argument that lowering the legal drinking age does not lead to large increases in detrimental outcomes for youth.
Lowering the legal drinking age has no detrimental impact on youth
Featured paperIZA Discussion Paper No. 7522 Does Changing the Legal Drinking Age Influence Youth Behaviour?
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