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Study: Canadian drinking-age laws have significant effect on deaths among young males

By Basoodler, Mar 23, 2014 | | |
  1. Basoodler
    A recent study by a University of Northern British Columbia-based scientist associated with the UBC Faculty of Medicine and UNBC's Northern Medical Program demonstrates that Canada's drinking-age laws have a significant effect on youth mortality.

    The study was published in the international journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. In it, Dr. Russell Callaghan writes that when compared to Canadian males slightly younger than the minimum legal drinking age, young men who are just older than the drinking age have significant and abrupt increases in mortality, especially from injuries and motor vehicle accidents.

    "This evidence demonstrates that drinking-age legislation has a significant effect on reducing mortality among youth, especially young males," says Dr. Callaghan.

    Currently, the minimum legal drinking age is 18 years of age in Alberta, Manitoba, and Québec, and 19 years in the rest of the country. Using national Canadian death data from 1980 to 2009, researchers examined the causes of deaths of individuals who died between 16 and 22 years of age. They found that immediately following the minimum legal drinking age, male deaths due to injuries rose sharply by 10 to 16 per cent, and male deaths due to motor vehicle accidents increased suddenly by 13 to 15 per cent.

    Increases in mortality appeared immediately following the legislated drinking age for 18-year-old females, but these jumps were relatively small.

    According to the research, increasing the drinking age to 19 years of age in Alberta, Manitoba, and Québec would prevent seven deaths of 18-year-old men each year. Raising the drinking age to 21 years across the country would prevent 32 annual deaths of male youth 18 to 20 years of age.

    "Many provinces, including British Columbia, are undertaking alcohol-policy reforms," adds Dr. Callaghan. "Our research shows that there are substantial social harms associated with youth drinking. These adverse consequences need to be carefully considered when we develop new provincial alcohol policies. I hope these results will help inform the public and policy makers in Canada about the serious costs associated with hazardous drinking among young people."

    Dr. Callaghan is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry, whose major research interests include alcohol and drug policy, injection drug use and infectious disease in Northern British Columbia, and the health trajectories of individuals with alcohol- or drug-use disorders.

    The Northern Medical Program is part of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia. This distributed medical program was the first of its kind in North America and has proven to be a highly successful model of distributed education. Thirty-two medical students are welcomed into the NMP every year.

    by Medical News Today, medicalnewstoday.com
    March 21



    Impacts of drinking-age laws on mortality in Canada, 1980–2009, doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2014.02.019

    The University of Northern British Columbia




  1. Basoodler
    Re: Study: Canadian drinking-age laws have significant effect on deaths among young m

    If you consider the findings of this study, (let me point them out )

    That based on the scientific information presented today...

    ...... I would have to conclude..


    1) There is no hope for young women who drink (apparently)

    2) we should raise the drinking age to 150 years old to prevent deaths in all age groups.

    I long for a society based on personal responsibity and individual goals .. This whole "save the idiots from themselves" mentality Is for the birds
  2. NeuroChi
    Re: Study: Canadian drinking-age laws have significant effect on deaths among young m

    What injuries?
    Were they drunk? How else could this be associated? I wana see the study.

    ~Drunk driving should be punishable by death. You're gonna kill yourself anyway. ~

    ~Or alcohol should be illegal for everyone with an IQ>100 or extra Y chromosome. ~
  3. Basoodler
    Re: Study: Canadian drinking-age laws have significant effect on deaths among young m

    This is the abstract.. I separated some of the results with line breaks because it was kind of jumbled.

    To clear up any possible confusion about my first post, I am not pro drunk driving.

    I was initially trying to wrap my head around the whole "if you reduce the availability of alcohol for 18 year olds, it will lead to less alcohol related car accidents in that age group". Which would obviously be true.. A bit too obviously.. Which led to me wondering

    "what exactly is the point of this scientific study?"

    "to reaffirm that increased alcohol use in a specific group leads to increased problems resulting from said use?"

    "To reaffirm that an 18 year old is less mature than a 20 year old?"

    " To document the vagina's ability to instill stability in decision making while intoxicated?"

    "To show that mortality rates in women are ..... Ehh ..meh? Whatever?"

    "Was this published on rt.com or pravda?"
  4. BitterSweet
    Re: Study: Canadian drinking-age laws have significant effect on deaths among young m

    Yeah I have a lot of problems with the statistics and study methods that are resulting in these conclusions. This article shows how statistics and studies used in the wrong way lead to erroneous conclusions that people will buy into. It's just like MADD (mothers against drunk driving); ever check out their website, and take the time to look at how they got their statistics? It's all watered down bullshit. MADD seems to demonize alcohol entirely, giving statistics like "xx% of youth report having tried alcohol at the age of 14" (I made that up as an example), and then these type of statements are pretty much left in a way that really makes no valid points, except for blaming young people and alcohol use.

    This is only theoretical, at best! If the writers of this study want to include statements like this, at least word it more appropriately, maybe use the word "could" instead of "would". Also, looking at the timeline range being used in these studies: 1980 - 2009. In the earlier years/decades, drunk driving wasn't as big of a deal as it is now; the penalties for driving drunk were less than they are now, the social awareness was less, so those are a few variables that need to be considered. You can't compare an 18 year old from 1980 to an 18 year old from 2009.

    The drinking age minimum has really nothing to do with these increases in fatalities; it's the fact that when a person is allowed to legally drink, they are going to drink. And as long as the minimum drinking age is the "youth" years, like 19 years old, 20, 21, 22, etc., whenever someone turns whatever age it is they can drink at, they are going to be out drinking. Even though a lot of people drink underage, not all of them are able to get a fake ID to get into bars and what not, or any attempts to get into bars and clubs are probably unsuccessful, and in general when you aren't the legal drinking age, if you're going to drink, it's probably at a friend's house. So when youth are finally able to go out on the drinking scene, that leads them to places where they'll need to drive more, and in general are in more vulnerable positions to have something bad happen, like getting into fights at a bar, being on the road with other drunk drivers, getting in a car with a drunk driver.

    The smaller jump in fatalities in the case of females could be due to a variety of things; it could be the case that the males tend to do the driving when going out. From my own experience, it was usually guys willing to pick us girls up and other people to drive wherever. Guys might be more likely to own cars at that age than girls, and for the reason that guys in their younger years pay up the ass for insurance, it is supposedly the case that male drivers are riskier drivers. From the guys I have known, they have been reckless, or at least not very careful, when driving drunk.

    Anyway, my point is that these studies are tying these statistics to one variable - the drinking age, instead of considering what happens when people turn the drinking age, regardless if it's 18 or 21. When you legally can drink, all the factors and more I just mentioned become much more likely to happen. I really don't see Ontario increasing the drinking age higher than 19, unless there is some REAL solid information. Plus that's less revenue for the government from liquor sales. And past a certain point, people are going to drink even if they aren't the legal drinking age, i.e. 21 years old. People leave home around that age and head off to university, or go live on their own, and thus don't have to deal with their parents or household rules. You also tend to know people who are of the drinking age so you can easily obtain booze. I hope what I've wrote makes sense lol my train of thought is clouded right now.
  5. Basoodler
    Re: Study: Canadian drinking-age laws have significant effect on deaths among young m

    I think they are applying their "regression-discontinuity" control statistic to only age maybe?

    As i understand it regression-discontinuity is a mathematical technique to establish a control in situations where there isn't one. Thus allowing for randomization as required per the scientific method. For example: in a drug study the control can be the placebo group or sober group which allows for a rational comparison. With regression-discontinuity the control is based on a statistic that is common enough that you can estimate that | -<= %lower-- (control)-- %higher=>--|.

    It looks like this study just used age and fatality

    As far as I know, the only way to do a study on something like "drinking age" is through "regression-discontinuity" .. Only here It seems like increases in population or special circumstances are left out.. For instance socioeconomics of the areas.. Even rural vs urban.. A person who lives in a rural setting will have to drive more to conduct daily activities than a person in the city, (and more chances for reckless driving at that).. Also there are no stipulations on alcohol consumption mentioned in the abstract either..

    I'm basing this on their poorly worded abstract so there is a possibility that all of this was covered.. So I could be wrong
  6. BitterSweet
    Re: Study: Canadian drinking-age laws have significant effect on deaths among young m

    Yeah good thought process Basoodler. I would hope at least that more factors and variables have been taken into account before publishing results. Just scanned the end of the article so that I can properly refer to the study's publishers without just saying "they" - so the 'Northern Medical Program' in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of B.C. is responsible for this study and publications. I'm assuming, or hoping, that some more in depth statistical analysis were done, and that the article is just cutting to the main points. Still though, if this was published in Medical News Today, there should be no need to omit more details about the study. Otherwise what's published looks like that is all they actually did. If they did more/better research, they should include it in the article if they want to look credible. Or they could be choosing to frame the situation by overly emphasizing these age-related findings, or omitting other findings which don't support their conclusions.

    A lot of studies can suffer from biases, biases that skew the findings to support the conclusions the conductors of the study were expecting to find. I forget exactly what this bias is called, but that could be happening here. They set out to do a study about the minimum drinking age, expecting that there are less repercussions associated with higher drinking age minimums, and are grasping at straws, and neglecting the other variables that have led to the statistics they cite. So, it is just unrealistic to say that there is a gigantic correlation between minimum drinking age laws and youth mortality. There is probably a slight correlation. Or realize that it is more so what happens when people turn the minimum drinking age, rather than the minimum drinking age itself. A minimum drinking age law of 18 years old for example - what reasons could there be resulting in greater youth mortalities than at higher minimum age drinking laws? Maybe consider what typically happens when a person turns 18, then compare that to the age of 19, and so forth. At 18, many people are graduating high school and going off to university; this could be the first time they've had any significant freedom in their lives. So maybe these types of details should be cited, instead of just saying a lower minimum age drinking laws cause more youth fatalities. What is the reason for the trends they've found? Their study and conclusions would be much better received if they included reasons for these trends.

    Otherwise, it just seems like the conclusion is that the younger you are, the more irresponsible you are, thus minimum drinking age laws should be changed. Younger people probably due tend to be more irresponsible than older people, but comparing someone of 20 to someone of 21, for example, doesn't seem to me like there is really that much of a difference. It's not like comparing a 20 year old with a 40 year old.
  7. Basoodler
    Re: Study: Canadian drinking-age laws have significant effect on deaths among young m

    The bias is built in to the "model" which generally is a simple simple equation.. I can't type it all .. But if you want to see in depth how it works and how it is altered to show bias .. This is the best explanation of both that I can find


    Basically you have statistics that are factored as variables ... How you weigh those and which ones you chose to use can easily bias that "truth" of your results
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