To lower the pressure for binge-drinking, presidents of some of the largest colleges and universities in the United States have been advocating that the national drinking age of 21 be lowered (see our previous post).
But why is the drinking age 21 to begin with? Ethan Trex of our pal mental_floss blog writes:
... how did we end up with a drinking age of 21 in the first place?
In short, we ended up with a national minimum age of 21 because of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984. This law basically told states that they had to enact a minimum drinking age of 21 or lose up to ten percent of their federal highway funding. Since that’s serious coin, the states jumped into line fairly quickly. Interestingly, this law doesn’t prohibit drinking per se; it merely cajoles states to outlaw purchase and public possession by people under 21. Exceptions include possession (and presumably drinking) for religious practices, while in the company of parents, spouses, or guardians who are over 21, medical uses, and during the course of legal employment.