Are Men More Likely To Engage In Risky Drinking?

By Beth Leipholtz 10/02/18
Apparently men and women differ in how they approach the legal drinking age.
men toasting with big beer glasses

Driving drunk, getting in physical fights and taking part in risky sexual behavior—all three of these are more common in men than women when the drinking age starts at 21, according to new research

WUWM reports that while previous research supports the fact that there is an increase in alcohol-related deaths and violent crimes at age 21, Jason Fletcher, a professor and researcher at University of Wisconsin-Madison, wanted to reach beyond those statistics.

Fletcher wanted to zone in on other “problem areas” that follow the legal drinking age. 

To do so, Fletcher studied data from Add Health, a study covering adolescent to adult health in the U.S. What he found pointed to men facing more consequences than women after turning 21.

"There is just nothing I can discern from the data of negative impacts along the outcomes that I examine for women,” Fletcher said, according to WUWM. “The individuals in the data, when they turn 21, they do drink more, but the consequences that I examined, women don't seem to have those consequences.”

According to WUWM, Fletcher says one possible response is for authority figures, such as parents, to step in and remind their children of the risks of drinking as they approach 21.

"And, it might be a reasonable intervention to remind parents of individuals about to turn 21, that especially their sons, about these negative consequences,” Fletcher stated. “Maybe they could at least be part of these interventions, in terms of reducing these risky behaviors right around the legal age of drinking." 

Another part of Fletcher’s research was the discovery that parental involvement won’t necessarily deter children from risky drinking. The research actually found that children around age 21 living with parents have steeper increases in risky drinking than those children living away from their parents. 

Last year, a bill to lower Wisconsin’s drinking age to 19 was presented in the state legislature. However, Fletcher's solution would be to move in the other direction, by increasing the legal drinking age for men to 22 or 23—though he acknowledges that it’s not likely Wisconsinites would approve such a change.

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Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. By day she is a website designer, and in her spare time she enjoys writing about recovery at, doing graphic design and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. Find Beth on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter.