This study of three black rural areas of South Africa shows that apartheid has institutionalized circulating rural-urban migration and significantly affects social and economic fabrics. The areas studied had a high male absentee rate and were poor. Incomes were unequally distributed, with the poorest 40 percent of households receiving only 12 percent of the total income and the top 10 percent receiving 34 percent of the total. Poverty was inversely related to household size, the number of migrants, education, and stockholdings. Although the majority of the households had agricultural land (1-2 ha), earnings frommigration provided 73-77 percent of household earnings, and agricultural productivity levels were very low. The socioeconomic profiles were those of displaced urban communities rather than rural homesteads.