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Age 18–30 trajectories of binge drinking frequency and prevalence across the past 30 years for men and women: Delineating when and why historical trends reversed across age
Development and Psychopathology  (IF4.151),  Pub Date : 2022-01-24, DOI: 10.1017/s0954579421001218
Justin Jager, Katherine M. Keyes, Daye Son, Megan E. Patrick, Jonathan Platt, John E. Schulenberg

Historical analyses based on US data indicate that recent cohorts engage in lower binge drinking at age 18 relative to past cohorts, but by the mid- to late-20s the reverse is true: recent cohorts engage in higher binge drinking relative to past cohorts. We pinpoint when – both developmentally and historically – this reversal manifested, examine possible reasons for this reversal, and examine sex convergence in these developmental and historical patterns. As part of the US national Monitoring the Future Study, over 75,000 youths from the high school classes of 1976–2006 were surveyed biennially between ages 18 and 30. We found that the reversal primarily manifested between ages 18 and 24 for men and 18 and 22 for women. We also found that the reversal emerged gradually across the last three decades, suggesting it is the result of a broad and durable historical shift. Our findings indicated that historical variation in social roles and minimum legal drinking age collectively accounted for only a modest amount of the reversal, although marriage was the most influential among the factors examined here. Finally, we found evidence that sex convergence in binge drinking was developmentally limited and far more pronounced at the beginning of the transition to adulthood.