If you’re a regular Bulletin reader, you know I believe that the drinking age in the U.S. is too high, that the age a person can vote and fight and/or die for one’s country should also be the age he or she can drink, as well. I lived through this ridiculous hypocritical double-standard when I was in the military thirty years ago, and I still hold a grudge. It was absurd then, and it’s absurd now.
I think most of us believe that America is a progressive country where freedom is something we take for granted, that it’s the lynchpin of our society with free speech, free assembly, freedom of religion, and on and on. But not when it comes to our puritanical view of alcohol, there we are nearly the most backward country in the world. When you take out the handful of countries that allow no alcohol consumption — which are all in the Middle East — only India has a drinking age higher than ours, and even that’s not nationwide, but on a state by state basis. I could talk about this ’till I’m blue in the face, but nothing shows this inequity better than a visual representation of drinking ages by country. Happily, Drinking Map went to the trouble of creating a world map showing the drinking age by country, where known. To see it larger, click through the image, then click on “all sizes.”
As you can see, the vast majority of the world is at a sensible 18, with only a few other nations (all in the Middle East, too) that are 21 like us. Japan and most of Scandinavia set the age at 20 and South Korea along with parts of Canada are at 19.
But perhaps more interesting is the map below, also by the folks at Drinking Map, called Where “Adults” Can’t Drink. This map shows the relationship between a country’s age of majority (when a person is considered an “adult”) and the age at which they are permitted to drink alcohol. Notice that for a majority of nations (in green) that age is the same, as I believe it should be. A few more (in pink), like India and most of Scandinavia, allow some drinking but with certain restrictions. Then we, along with parts of Canada and a handful of other nations (in red), stand out as having a drinking age that’s higher than the age of majority. To see it larger, click through the image, then click on “all sizes.”
Would it not be perhaps a reasonable compromise to allow 18-year olds to drink beer, or wine and beer, but not spirits until they’re 21? Anyway, just some food for thought.