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A common public perception in OECD countries suggests that refugees are mostly “economic migrants” in search of a better standard of living. Does the empirical record belie this belief? The authors explore that question within a rationalist approach using aggregate-level data that allow them to explore a variety of other covariates of the choice to seek refuge in one country relative to another. In addition to wages, they consider fear of persecution, culture, and the costs of relocation. The results are at odds with the “bogus refugees” image: the effect of average wages is mediated by proximity such that higher average wages are associated with fewer refugees, except among bordering countries. In addition, refugees seek asylum in neighboring countries, especially those at war with their own country or those experiencing a civil war. Those who seek refuge in countries other than their neighbors follow colonial ties.