Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Drinking Age

So college presidents think the drinking age is too high. No surprises there. "Mothers Against Drunk Driving" thinks it's too low. This reinforces my feeling that parents should have no political power. What I would suggest, though, is that it would be sensible to have a drinking age that lines up with a natural division in one's life -- so, e.g. 14, 18, 22 are all more sensible drinking ages than 16 or 21. One problem with the status quo is that about 50% of college students can drink legally and the other 50% can't, so it's trivial to procure booze. If you really wanted to make it harder for college students to drink, it would make sense to raise the age to 22 and restrict volume per sale for anyone under 25; this would drive up the effective cost of alcohol for college students, and would partially solve the fake ID problem because everyone in your group would be illegal.

Would this reduce alcohol consumption? Probably not, because Popov is a Giffen good. On the other hand, it would spoil the current, barely acceptable status quo; and perhaps eventually lead to a rational drinking age like 18.

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