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A new study shows that young people across Pennsylvania are drinking less than two decades ago. Credit: Alana Shukovsky

New research shows that today’s generation of young adults are drinking less alcohol than they did decades ago.  

The annual Monitoring the Future Study, which surveys over 50,000 young adults nationwide, revealed that alcohol consumption has decreased significantly since the 1990s. In 1993, 92 percent of all people aged 19-28 reported consuming alcohol at some point in their lives. In 2017, only 85 percent reported having done so.

Another study, published by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board in May 2017, revealed that Pennsylvania  middle and high schoolers, as well as college students, are drinking less than the national average. 

“Before, people would look at you like you’re strange if you weren’t drinking in a bar,” Kevin Scullin, who bartends at White Dog Cafe, told “But now it’s every other person. You come for the food, for the socialization.”

Excessive binge drinking on campuses decreased 4.3 percent among adults aged 18-24 between 2005 and 2014 according to a report in the Journal of Studies on Alcoholic and Drugs, a figure which attributes to a combination of educational intervention programming and a lower economic threshold for students following the 2008 economic recession.

At Penn, administrators have adopted a set of stringent rules regarding alcohol. In 2017, a Task Force for a Safe and Responsible Campus Community was established with the goal of targeting sexual harassment and violence, substance abuse, and other student conduct. 

Several suggestions the task force put forth, many of which have been implemented officially, include limiting four drinks per person at any social event, prohibiting kegs at student-run events, and banning drinking games and competitions. 

Nationally, the North American Interfraternity Conference, which oversees 66 fraternities with chapters on 800 campuses, has banned hard liquor from all fraternity chapter facilities and events, effective September 2019. The policy change, which was adopted to address the rise in hazing and alcohol related deaths on college campuses, will impact the majority of Penn fraternities.