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Prohibition Versus Taxation: Reconsidering The Legal Drinking Age

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  • DONALD S. Kenkel

Abstract

The legal drinking age targets a group at a high risk of alcohol-related problems. This paper argues that taxation could achieve the same benefits as the legal drinking age at a substantially lower social cost. Existing empirical research suggests that simultaneously lowering the legal age to 18 and taxing alcohol purchases at between 12 to 86 percent of the current price would achieve the same results as the current legal age. Levying a special teen tax only on young adults would minimize its social costs. Teen tax revenues between $564 million to $4.03 billion measure the net social gain of replacing the current prohibition on young adults' alcohol purchases with a taxation policy. Copyright 1993 Western Economic Association International.

Suggested Citation

  • DONALD S. Kenkel, 1993. "Prohibition Versus Taxation: Reconsidering The Legal Drinking Age," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 11(3), pages 48-57, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:coecpo:v:11:y:1993:i:3:p:48-57
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    File URL: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1465-7287.1993.tb00389.x
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Smith, Rodney T, 1976. "The Legal and Illegal Markets for Taxed Goods: Pure Theory and an Application to State Government Taxation of Distilled Spirits," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(2), pages 393-429, August.
    2. Willig, Robert D, 1976. "Consumer's Surplus without Apology," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(4), pages 589-597, September.
    3. Coate, Douglas & Grossman, Michael, 1988. "Effects of Alcoholic Beverage Prices and Legal Drinking Ages on Youth Alcohol Use," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages 145-171, April.
    4. Pogue, Thomas F & Sgontz, Larry G, 1989. "Taxing to Control Social Costs: The Case of Alcohol," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 235-243, March.
    5. Henry Saffer & Michael Grossman, 1986. "Beer Taxes, the Legal Drinking Age, and Youth Motor Vehicle Fatalities," NBER Working Papers 1914, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ruhm, Christopher J., 1996. "Alcohol policies and highway vehicle fatalities," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 435-454, August.
    2. Adit Laixuthai & Frank J. Chaloupka, 1993. "Youth Alcohol Use And Public Policy," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 11(4), pages 70-81, October.
    3. Christopher Carpenter & Carlos Dobkin, 2011. "The Minimum Legal Drinking Age and Public Health," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(2), pages 133-156, Spring.
    4. Robert L. Ohsfeldt & Raymond G. Boyle, 1999. "Tobacco Taxes, Smoking Restrictions, and Tobacco Use," NBER Chapters,in: The Economic Analysis of Substance Use and Abuse: An Integration of Econometrics and Behavioral Economic Research, pages 15-30 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Nelson, Jon P., 2001. "Alcohol Advertising and Advertising Bans: A Survey of Research Methods, Results, and Policy Implications," Working Papers 7-01-2, Pennsylvania State University, Department of Economics.
    6. Michael Grossman & Frank J. Chaloupka & Henry Saffer & Adit Laixuthai, 1993. "Effects of Alcohol Price Policy on Youth," NBER Working Papers 4385, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Frank J. Chaloupka & Henry Wechsler, 1996. "Binge Drinking In College: The Impact Of Price, Availability, And Alcohol Control Policies," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 14(4), pages 112-124, October.

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