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Impact of legislation raising the legal drinking age in Massachusetts from 18 to 20


  • Hingson, R.W.
  • Scotch, N.
  • Mangione, T.
  • Meyers, A.
  • Glantz, L.
  • Heeren, T.
  • Lin, N.
  • Mucatel, M.
  • Pierce, G.


On April 16, 1979, Massachusetts raised its legal drinking age from 18 to 20 years. Massachusetts was compared with New York State, exclusive of New York city and Nassau County. New York State retained an 18-year-old drinking age. Random telephone surveys with approximately 1,000 16-19 year olds in each state were undertaken prior to the law's enactment and twice at yearly intervals after the law to assess the law's impact on teenage drinking, driving after drinking, and non-fatal accident involvement. Fatal crash data reported to the US Department of Transportation by each state from April 16, 1976-April 15, 1981 were also analyzed. After the law, although the modes of procuring alcohol changed. No significant changes were observed in Massachusetts relative to New York in the proportion of surveyed teenagers who reported that they drank or in the volume of their consumption. The proportion of teenagers who drove after drinking heavily (six or more drinks at one one time) did not decline in Massachusetts relative to New York. However, the frequency that teenagers reported driving after any drinking declined significantly in Massachusetts. Frequency of teenage driving after marijuana use and non-fatal teenage accidents declined at comparable rates in both states. The numbers of teenage nighttime single vehicle fatal accidents declined more in Massachusetts than New York, in the 18-19 year age group. Overall fatal accident trends among 16-19 year olds in the two states were similar.

Suggested Citation

  • Hingson, R.W. & Scotch, N. & Mangione, T. & Meyers, A. & Glantz, L. & Heeren, T. & Lin, N. & Mucatel, M. & Pierce, G., 1983. "Impact of legislation raising the legal drinking age in Massachusetts from 18 to 20," American Journal of Public Health, American Public Health Association, vol. 73(2), pages 163-170.
  • Handle: RePEc:aph:ajpbhl:1983:73:2:163-170_4

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    Cited by:

    1. Jeffrey A. Miron & Elina Tetelbaum, 2009. "Does The Minimum Legal Drinking Age Save Lives?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 47(2), pages 317-336, April.

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