Age of Underage = 21? Why not 20?

I wonder…how was it decided that 21 would be the legal age? I assume this is oriented around the convenience of colleges? Since a high school senior is 18 + 4 years college = 21? Is this all it’s based upon? Why not a round number, like 20?

If it is college-based, this is odd to me because colleges once permitted beer parties when the legal age was 18 - often free and outdoors!!! And, who knew if all attendees were 17 or 18? (In all honesty, it wasn’t so long ago when no one seemed to care…)

So, is it all for the colleges? (Like they don’t have drinking? Pleazzze! :rolleyes: )

  • Jinx

I believe the age of majority in the USA stems from English Law. Although the age of majority is currently 18 in the UK, this only changed in 1970 and was 21 prior to that. Although I am not conversent with why it was hostorically 21 in England, I doubt it is to do with education, as historically most people were nt educated beyond the age of 14 (if at all if you go back further).

on re read,

do you mean the coming of age, or the legal to drink alcohol age?

It goes back to the Ancient Greeks :

"In Ancient Greek philosophy and astrology, the climacterics (Latin, annus climactericus, from Greek κλῖμακτηρικός) were certain purportedly critical years in a person’s life, marking turning points.

The first climacteric occurs in the seventh year of a person’s life; the rest are multiples of the first, such as 21, 49, 56, and 63, the last of which was called the grand climacteric, with the dangers here being supposedly more imminent."

From Wikipedia

Smiley inserted by accident. (My browser insert a smiley instead of a number sometimes, God knows why)

Yeah. I suspect that 21 was the age for no better reason than that it is the product of the magic numbers 3 and 7.

Just so you know, it’s because your browser didn’t recognize the symbols you copied and pasted from Wiki, and it translated the last one (the one before the closing parenthesis) as a colon. And, if you type a colon followed by a ), you get a smiley face.


If 18+4=21, I would say you need at least another year of college.