Abstract This article investigates current socioeconomic disparities within rural and urban areas. The empirical analysis is grounded in an examination of urban and rural bias theories, which have often underpinned poverty analysis. This article suggests that poverty analysis can be improved by moving beyond the rural–urban binary and investigating differences across all geographical types (when data are available). Using 2012 household survey data on South Africa, the article sheds lights on substantial differences—in household composition and access to services and assets—that are likely to make households located in particular geotypes far more vulnerable to poverty. Finally, the article discusses how development policy can better address the specific income-generating constraints that disadvantaged areas face.