Writing Essays On Legal Drinking Age
Are you writing about drinking laws for a legal or history class? Laws pertaining to alcohol use vary widely from country to country, and have changed a great deal over time, so it’s imperative that you do your research before you write. Make sure you pay extra attention to some of the following elements in your essay:
International Differences in Law and Culture
In the United States, only legal adults can drink after their twenty first birthday (despite the fact that eighteen is the age of legal adulthood). This has been the case since the 1970’s, and is unlikely to change anytime soon. This has arguably led to a drinking culture where alcohol is seen as a forbidden, adult substance, which is incredibly enticing to teenagers and young adults. Many young adults binge drink and engage in illegal activities in order to procure alcohol, and some think this would not be the case if the laws were more forgiving.
Contrast this drinking age with the drinking laws of most European countries. In Germany, for example, children can begin drinking along with their families at dinner from a young age, usually the early teens. Alcohol is appreciated throughout Europe as an important aspect of ritual, a means of socially bonding, and a way of enjoying or improving a nice meal. Perhaps as a result of this mindset, binge drinking is very uncommon in these countries, as are legal repercussions for violating the legal drinking age.
When writing your paper, consider how the country you are analyzing differs from other countries throughout the world, both in legal drinking age and in drinking culture. If you can, form some inferences about the effects of drinking age laws on drinking culture, or vice versa.
Historical Changes in Drinking Age
You should also consider how the drinking age laws have shifted over time in your country of interest. Let’s take the United States again as our example. For a long time, there was no legal drinking age in the US. Alcohol was enjoyed with virtually no limitations whatsoever, and even young children could be found in bars throughout industrialization. After this came the Prohibition, where all alcohol drinking was illegal for several years. This led to a culture where alcohol was manufactured and shipped by gangs on an expensive black market.
When Prohibition ended, the United States instituted legal drinking age requirements. It became unacceptable for young adults and teenagers to drink, with one notable exception: until the 1970’s, adults under the age of twenty could drink watered down beer. Even in the US, alcohol law has a rich and varied history. Take all of these shifts into account when writing your essay.