This article examines what explains the relative attractiveness of Western European countries as a destination for asylum seekers. Individuals coming to Western Europe in order to lodge an asylum application are modelled as utility maximisers who choose the destination country that offers the highest net benefit. This benefit is seen as a function of economic attractiveness, generosity of welfare provisions, deterrent policy measures, hostility towards foreigners and asylum seekers, existing asylum communities, colonial and language links as well as geographical proximity. Results from a large dyadic panel over the time period from 1982 to 1999 demonstrate the impact that these fundamental determinants have on asylum destination choice. The implications of the results for the ongoing debates over fair burden-sharing are complex as they provide arguments for two conflicting interpretations of burden-sharing as either financial side-payments or the physical re-allocation of asylum seekers
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