In the last 20years, developed countries have struggled with a rising tide of asylum seekers, a trend that has now reversed. This article examines what happened and why. It surveys the trends in asylum seeking and the literature that this has generated. It provides new regression estimates of the determinants of asylum applications up to the present. The key findings are that violence and terror can account for much of the variation and that, while tougher policies did have a deterrent effect, they account for only about a third of the decline in applications since 2001.