Lowering the drinking age has resulted in more young men
being hospitalised with assault injuries, University of Otago
research has found.
Lead researcher Kypros Kypri said the research was more
evidence that Parliament failed New Zealanders when it
bungled a vote in 2012 on raising the alcohol purchasing age.
He believed raising the drinking age should be looked at
again and any movement would have a greater impact on Dunedin
than elsewhere, because of the proportion of young people in
''You would expect that anything that affects alcohol
consumption among young people will be especially effective
in Dunedin because of that.''
The study, published in theAmerican Journal of Public Health,
looked at patients admitted to New Zealand hospitals with
assault injuries on weekends four years before, and up to 12
years after, the alcohol purchasing age was reduced to 18 in
It found the rate of increase for hospital admissions due to
assaults was a fifth higher for 18- and 19-year-old men and a
quarter higher for 15- to 17-year-old males than 20- and
21-year-old men, who were unaffected by the change.
Previous studies had shown reducing the purchasing age had
resulted in increased traffic injuries, but no other study
had looked at assaults.
''There had been no such studies of the effects on assault
which is an increasingly important problem in New Zealand and
other countries that have liberalised access to alcohol among
While there were straightforward ways to reduce
alcohol-related traffic injuries - such as changing
blood-alcohol rules - evidence suggested it was more
difficult to reduce the number of alcohol-related assaults.
Restricting the availability and promotion of alcohol were
two key ways to reduce the numbers of alcohol-related
Among females, the differences between the three age groups
over time were not statistically significant. Report
co-author Jennie Connor said there was ''insufficient
statistical power to properly examine the effect of the law
change on females''.
''This is partly because the assault rate is so much lower
among females than males, but it is also likely that the
dynamics of assault are quite different when females are
''While girls and young women are drinking more than ever,
they still account for only one in five or six assault
''Assault remains predominantly a problem affecting young men
and is likely to be contributing to the gender gap in