Three-quarters of Americans started drinking alcohol before age 21

Three-quarters of Americans started drinking alcohol before age 21
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Drinking while considered a minor has decreased with each successive generation

Drinking alcohol has long been a right of passage into adulthood, but a study by the journal Childhood Development concluded that adolescents (ages 13-19) in each successive generation exhibit a decline in adult activities such as dating, learning to drive, moving out, and drinking. YouGov data shows that while the minimum legal drinking age in the US is currently 21, three-quarters of Americans (77%) say they drank for the first time before reaching 21 and six in ten (60%) say they had their first drink while still considered a minor (under 18 years of age).

According to YouGov Omnibus data, about one in ten Americans (12%) say they had their first alcoholic drink before the age of 13. About one in five (19%) say they drank for the first time between the age of 13 and 15, and nearly three in ten (29%) say they had their first drink between the age of 16 and 18. That accounts for the six in ten Americans who have had alcohol by the time they have reached adulthood.

The poll also shows that 17% of Americans drink their first sip of alcohol between the ages of 19 and 21. Only 12% say they had their first drink over the age of 21.

Nearly two-thirds of men (65%) had their first drink while considered a minor, compared to 55% of women. One-fifth of women (20%) say they drank for the first time between 19 and 21 years of age, compared to just 15% of men at that same age range.

A generational divide exists when it comes to first drinks. Americans between the ages of 45 and 54 are most likely to say they drank as a minor, at 69%.  Today’s youngest adults report the lowest rate of drinking as a minor, with 41% of 18- to 24-year-olds and 58% of 25- to 34-year-olds saying they drank before the age of 18.

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Image: Getty