NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Critics Challenge College Drinking Study

April 19, 2002

A report from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism claims that 1,400 college students are killed each year due to excessive drinking, and 500,000 college students a year are injured while under the influence of alcohol.

Critics say the 1,400 deaths total is based on simplistic assumptions. According to the report:

  • There are about 25.5 million 18- to 24-year-olds living in the U.S. -- 31 percent of whom are enrolled as full- or part-time students in two- or four-year colleges.
  • The number of alcohol-related motor vehicle crash deaths among 18-24-year-olds during 1998 was 3,674 -- and assuming that college students died in proportion to their percentage of the young adult population, he attributes 1,138 to college students.
  • Similarly, applying the 31 percent factor to the 991 alcohol-related non-traffic deaths among 18-24-year-olds in 1998 results in an additional 307 deaths, for a total of 1,445 alleged alcohol-related deaths annually among college students.

Steven Milloy, host of, says this is equivalent to saying that because women constitute about one-half the population, they must commit half of all crime. In fact, men commit more than 75 percent of crimes.

Source: Steven Milloy (Cato Institute), "Alcohol Excess of Dubious Proof," Washington Times, April 18, 2002; Task Force Report, "A Call to Action: Changing the Culture of Drinking at U.S. Colleges," April 2002, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; see also Ralph Hingson, et al., "Magnitude of alcohol-related morbidity, mortality, and alcohol dependence among U.S. college students age 18-24," Journal of Studies on Alcohol, No. 2, 2002.


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