november 2012

The impact of drinking on psychological well-being: evidence from minimum drinking age laws in the United States

In this paper, we investigate the relationship between alcohol consumption and psychological well-being among young adults in the United States. We do so by exploiting the discontinuity in alcohol consumption at age 21 and using a regression discontinuity design. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (1997 Cohort), we document that young adults tend to increase their alcohol consumption and drink on average 1.5 days per month more once they are granted legal access to alcohol at age 21. However, we also show that in general, this discrete jump in alcohol consumption at age 21 has no statistically significant impact on several indicators of psychological well-being among young adults. This result suggests that although stricter alcohol control targeted toward young adults may result in meaningful reductions in alcohol consumption, the immediate spillover effects of such policies on psychological well-being are relatively limited.

Additional Info

  • Authors

    Ertan Yoruk C.; Yoruk B.K.
  • Issue

    Soc.Sci.Med., pages 1844-1854 / volume 75
  • Published Date

    november 2012