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Keywords:

  • Amethyst Initiative;
  • Modeling;
  • College;
  • Heavy Episodic Drinking;
  • Misperception

Background

A number of college presidents have endorsed the Amethyst Initiative, a call to consider lowering the minimum legal drinking age (MLDA). Our objective is to forecast the effect of the Amethyst Initiative on college drinking.

Methods

A system model of college drinking simulates MLDA changes through (i) a decrease in heavy episodic drinking (HED) because of the lower likelihood of students drinking in unsupervised settings where they model irresponsible drinking (misperception), and (ii) an increase in overall drinking among currently underage students because of increased social availability of alcohol (wetness).

Results

For the proportion of HEDs on campus, effects of large decreases in misperception of responsible drinking behavior were more than offset by modest increases in wetness.

Conclusions

For the effect of lowering the MLDA, it appears that increases in social availability of alcohol have a stronger impact on drinking behavior than decreases in misperceptions.