My understanding of economic rationality is that people act rationally to 
maximize what they perceive to be their utility.  Thus a "forbidden fruit" 
hypothesis makes sense if and only if people believe they derive utility from 
doing something which society at large finds unacceptable, by "virtue" of its 
being unacceptable.  To state the obvious, this might occur if a potential 
drinker's peer group looked favorably upon such behavior, since acceptance by 
one's peers is clearly a form of utility.  Since some groups of young adults 
do indeed view rebellious behavior this way, I see no inconsistency between 
economic rationality and "forbidden fruit."
I would even go so far as to say that putting forth the appearance of being 
rebellious is the primary purpose of a large portion of underage drinkers.  
Because of laws against underage consumption, overall consumption might well 
decrease in all classes of society, but those who maintained easy access to 
alcohol would be more likely to binge drink -- after all, if drinking one 
bottle of beer is rebellious, drinking two bottles is even more so.  Thus 
proportionally more underage drinkers binge drink.  I also liked Mr. Parich's 
argument that underage drinkers do not drink publicly and thus are less 
likely to know when to quit.
Hopefully, these observations help explain why binge drinking has increased 
even as overall consumption has decreased.

--Brian Auriti

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