Comparing the 'D.V' Lottery with the Point System: Costs, Benefits and a Superior Alternative

38 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2005

See all articles by Ruth Uwaifo Oyelere

Ruth Uwaifo Oyelere

Morehouse College; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: May 2003


The diversity visa lottery popularly known as the D.V lottery is a U.S relatively new immigration policy that was shrouded with a lot of controversy at its inception in 1995. The main stated objective of this policy is to increase diversity in the U.S. However, from the policy inception, immigration specialists seriously doubted the claimed objective. They strongly believe that the congressional sponsors of the visa lottery adopted the diversity mantra as a cover for a program that was actually designed to satisfy other objectives. Whether or not this claim is true is yet unanswered objectively and would be probably had to verify.

In this paper, we review in details the D.V immigration policy program considering qualitatively its potential costs and benefits to the US. We then highlight in details the pros and cons of the most commonly suggested alternative to this program, the point systems. Then using simple cost/ benefit techniques, we attempt to estimate the fiscal benefit or burden of each program under certain conditions and assumptions. Finally, we propose an alternative policy that would achieve the diversity objective and dominates both policy programs for the U.S in terms of net fiscal benefit.

Keywords: Immigration, Diversity Lottery, Point System, Policy Analysis

JEL Classification: J60, J68, H59

Suggested Citation

Uwaifo Oyelere, Ruth, Comparing the 'D.V' Lottery with the Point System: Costs, Benefits and a Superior Alternative (May 2003). Available at SSRN: or

Ruth Uwaifo Oyelere (Contact Author)

Morehouse College ( email )

Department of Economics
Atlanta, GA 30332
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

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