Minimum Legal Drinking Age and the Social Gradient in Binge Drinking

40 Pages Posted: 4 Jan 2021

See all articles by Alexander Ahammer

Alexander Ahammer

Johannes Kepler University Linz - Department of Economics

Stefan Bauernschuster

University of Passau - Business Administration and Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Martin Halla

Johannes Kepler University Linz - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Hannah Lachenmaier

University of Passau

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Abstract

Low minimum legal drinking ages (MLDAs), as prevalent in many European countries, are severely understudied. We use rich survey and administrative data to estimate the impact of the Austrian MLDA of 16 on teenage drinking behavior and morbidity. Regression discontinuity estimates show that legal access to alcohol increases the frequency and intensity of drinking, which results in more hospital admissions due to alcohol intoxication. The effects are stronger for boys and teenagers with low socioeconomic background. The policy's impact is not driven by access. Data from an annual large-scale field study shows that about 25 percent of all retailers sell even hard liquor to underage customers. In line with this, perceived access to alcohol is very high and hardly changes at the MLDA. However, teenagers consider binge drinking at weekends to be less harmful after gaining legal access.

JEL Classification: I12, I18, H75, J13

Suggested Citation

Ahammer, Alexander and Bauernschuster, Stefan and Halla, Martin and Lachenmaier, Hannah, Minimum Legal Drinking Age and the Social Gradient in Binge Drinking. IZA Discussion Paper No. 13987, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3758688

Alexander Ahammer (Contact Author)

Johannes Kepler University Linz - Department of Economics ( email )

Altenbergerstrasse 69
A-4040 Linz, 4040
Austria

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.jku.at/ahammer/

Stefan Bauernschuster

University of Passau - Business Administration and Economics ( email )

University of Passau
Innstrasse 27
D-94030 Passau
Germany

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, 81679
Germany

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Martin Halla

Johannes Kepler University Linz - Department of Economics ( email )

Altenbergerstrasse 69
A-4040 Linz, 4040
Austria

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Hannah Lachenmaier

University of Passau ( email )

Innstrasse 27
Passau, 94032
Germany

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