Politics, Policy Analysis, and the Passage of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984
The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 exemplifies high-stakes legislation that attracted the interest of the public, legislators, academics, policy advocates, and executive agencies. This paper explores how these actors combined to generate intellectual support for this act within the legislative process. Limitations of the contemporaneous research required that the available evidence be evaluated judiciously. This did not happen, because it is not fostered by the adversarial nature of the process and because its most influential participants, executive agencies heavily involved in traffic safety, lacked the necessary neutrality and expertise.
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