International Alcohol Purchase Ages

October 26th, 2006 at 7:51 pm by David Farrar

As Parliament considers raising the alcohol purchase age to 20, it is always useful to look at the situation overseas. Using OECD countries (including members in waiting) my findings are:

Switzerland 14
Austria 16
Belgium 16
Denmark 16
France 16
Germany 16
Greece 16
Italy 16
Netherlands 16
Norway 16
Poland 16
Portugal 16
Spain 16
Turkey 16
Cyprus 17
Luxembourg 17
Australia 18
Canada 18
Chile 18
Czech Republic 18
Estonia 18
Finland 18
Hungary 18
Ireland 18
Israel 18
Latvia 18
Lithuania 18
Mexico 18
New Zealand 18
Slovakia 18
Slovenia 18
Sweden 18
UK 18
South Korea 19
Iceland 20
Japan 20
USA 21

Some countries have a split age such as Germany which is 15 but 18 for hard liquor.

It is very clear that 18 is the standard age, and that more countries have an age below 18 than do above 18. The only ones above 18 are the US, Iceland and Japan.

The average (mean) age is 17.4

There are serious issues in NZ with alcohol abuse amongst some youth. However overseas experiences suggests that most countries do not see a ‘drinking’ age over 18 as being a solution.

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