ADVANTAGES

McCardell's argument seems logical, but it falls apart once you look at the statistics on underage drinking. First of all, while binge drinking is a serious problem, the data do not show that it has gotten worse since states raised their drinking age. As researchers John Schulenberg of the University of Michigan and Jennifer Maggs of Penn State point out in a 2002 paper, "during the past two decades, despite many social, demographic, political and economic changes — and despite dramatic shifts in cigarette and illicit drug use — rates of frequent heavy drinking among those ages 19 to 22 have shifted little." According to the University of Michigan's , the proportion of those 19- to 22-year-olds who reported consuming five or more drinks in a row in the two weeks prior to being surveyed actually fell from 40.7% in 1984 to 38.1% in 2006. And no researchers have documented an increase in the percentage of alcohol-poisoning deaths among college students, although the raw number has probably increased with the growing college population.

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