Binge Drinking is a problem among the women of America. According to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, excessive consumption of alcohol in women is accounted for "an estimated average of 23000 deaths and 633000 years of potential life lost among women and girls in the United States each year." Citing the BRFSS survey, the report found that 12.5% of women aged above 18 binge drink. Women tend of binge drink less as they age(24.2% for 18-24 year olds and 2.5% for over 65 year olds); more educated women had a higher prevalence of binge drinking (14.1% of college graduates) compared to women with less education(8.5% of high school dropouts); women with higher income levels(16.0% in >$75,000) binge drink more than their lower income subjects (11.4% in <$25,000). One alarming data point is that 19.8% of high school girls binge drinks.
This is a problem because underage drinking may cause irreparable damage to the girls’ body and growth. The report also points out that alcohol consumption by high school girls is "strongly correlated with alcohol consumption by adults.” Explanations for this correlation include the youths’ desire to be like “the adults”, cultural factors, and new alcoholic beverages marketed to appeal to underage girl among others. Regardless of what it is, reducing the prevalence of binge drinking in adults may reduce that of underage girls, safeguarding their health.
The worst part is that the numbers that we have on the prevalence of binge drinking are all voluntary surveys and suffer from reporting bias. Those who indulge in binge drinking may report that they do not if they agreed take the survey at all (because of negative stereotypes of alcoholics). This survey then omits a lot of binge drinkers and under-reports the prevalence of binge drinking in women, meaning that there is actually a higher prevalence of binge drinking than the survey may show.
The trends between binge drinking and age, income and education level are not too surprising. Older women binge drink less because they are more mature; women with higher income binge drink because they can afford to do so; more educated women binge drink more because they are more stressed. However, I find the high prevalence (37.9%) of alcohol consumption among high school girls to be surprising. It really shows that the drinking age and the reinforcement of it is not very effective.
If we can lower alcohol consumption and prevalence of binge drinking in adult women, we would also reduce that of high school girls. Increasing the drinking age won’t do anything but cause inconveniences and a lot of opposition from the public. Lowering the drinking age allows easier access to alcohol (which makes a lot of people happy but doesn't solve the problem at hand). Limiting the amount of alcohol supplied or increasing the tax on alcohol in the market will without a doubt lower sales and reduce consumption, but it would result in dead weight loss in the alcohol market (economically undesirable). The best way to reduce alcohol consumption would be to educate the public of the dangers of alcohol overconsumption and the joys and merits of moderation. On top of that, the public need to suppress the popular media’s implication that getting wasted or passed out drunk is the hip and cool thing to do.