In a Forbes article last year, a professor of health at Indiana University
notes that since the increase in the legal drinking age to 21 (1987), total
amount of alcohol consumed dropped but the incidence of EXCESSIVE drinking
increased among 18-20 year olds.

1. any takers on why?
2. is a "forbidden fruit" argument consistent with economic rationality?

1. There are some people who, if it was legal, would drink occasionally. They want to 
drink enough that they will drink even if it is illegal, but not so much that normally 
they would binge. By making it illegal to drink for these people, it increases the 
risk and thus the cost of drinking. I would say this increased cost is a cost per time 
period of drinking. If that is so, then the rational person would drink as little as 
possible to minimize their cost, their chance of getting caught. But since, for some 
people, drinking is more important to being caught, they will still drink, just in 
smaller chunks of time, to reduce the chance of getting caught. In this way the 
raising of the drinking age could lead to increased binge drinking. The decrease in 
total alchohol consumed are those who value alchohol less than getting caught.

2. The forbidden fruit argument might make sense, but I doubt that most drinking is 
about getting caught. People over 21 still drink and binge, though I would be 
interested to see how much in comparison to those under 21. I know of acquaintainces 
in my high school that drink, and they drink to get drunk, not to possibly get caught. 
I think the forbidden fruit argument could be a small part of the cause, but that the 
major reason is in my answer to #1.

Brian Keith

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