State of the South 2018 cover image

State of the South 2018

Recovering our Courage

MDC marks its 50-year anniversary with a look back at a region that made great strides during the 1960s and '70s— improving education, income, and health for its residents by removing many barriers to opportunity for African American and low-income residents—but is falling back, and recommends solutions for moving forward to shape a South where all people thrive.

State of the South 2017

Philanthropy as the South's Passing Gear: Fulfilling the Promise 

This second iteration of the MDC's 2007 State of the South report, commissioned by the Southeastern Council of Foundations, explores what has changed in terms of data, landscape, and philanthropic capacity and activity in our region and identifies opportunities where Passing Gear philanthropy can drive us far past the status quo.

North Carolina’s Economic Imperative: Building an Infrastructure of Opportunity

In partnership with the John M. Belk Endowment, MDC researched and published this 2016 report as part of its work with the endowment to study, address, and propose solutions for the low mobility rate experienced by too many North Carolinians.

State of the South 2014

Building an Infrastructure of Opportunity for the Next Generation 

Our analysis offers state and regional data and calls on southern communities to develop and implement purposeful policies and systemic practices — creating an “infrastructure of opportunity” that bolsters prospects for 15-24-year-olds so they can achieve economic resilience as adults and a fulfilling social and civic life.

State of the South 2011

Looking Ahead: Leadership for Hard Times

The concluding chapter of MDC's The State of the South 2010 series finds that for the region to move forward, Southern leaders must focus on a "North Star" of long-term priorities for real recovery to take place.

State of the South 2010 Chapter 2

Talent and Skill: The Antidotes to Uncertainty

The second chapter of The State of the South 2010 series examines the South's lagging educational attainment rates, particularly among African Americans and Latinos.

State of the South 2010 Chapter 1

Beyond the “Gilded Age”

Two recessions within 10 years created a lost decade, pushing too many Southerners back from fleeting middle-class prosperity, wearing away the veneer of the gilded age of growth experienced from 1980-2000.

State of the South 2007

Philanthropy as the South’s “Passing Gear”

Our analysis calls upon the region's philanthropic organizations to think more creatively and act more boldly to help the South address its self-limiting inequities and spur its competitiveness in a global economy.

Expert Responses 


Philanthropy and Equity: Challenges and Opportunities for the American South, by James Joseph, former U.S. ambassador to South Africa, former chair of MDC's  board of directors

State of the South 2004

Fifty Years After Brown v. Board of Education

MDC calls on Southern leaders to step up and meet serious public education issues, especially the status of the high school, emphasizing once again the primacy of a strong teacher corps and elimination of high poverty schools.

State of the South 2002

Shadows in the Sunbelt Revisited

 MDC revisits its groundbreaking 1986 report, “Shadows in the Sunbelt,” and offers recommendations to spread economic progress into the region's “shadows,” which have darkened in many Southern rural and urban places that have no distinctive competitive advantages in today's economy.

Funded by the Ford Foundation

State of the South 2000

MDC analyzes the Southern economy—the impact of globalization, trends in the business mix, trade, foreign direct investment, occupations, immigration, and workforce readiness—and recommends solution for decision-makers.

Funded by Appalachian Regional Commission, Ford Foundation, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Education


The State of the South 1998 cover

State of the South 1998

MDC provides a region-level analysis of 30-year trends in population, jobs, income, poverty, and education, concentrating on how various segments of the region's population are faring, with special attention to gender, ethnicity, and education levels, and recommends solutions for policymakers. 

Funded by Ford Foundation, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, U.S. Department of Labor, and Wachovia Foundation

State of the South 1998 Interim Report

Income and Wealth in the South

The 1998 State of the South Interim Report analyzes the distribution and concentration of income and wealth among Southern families by race/ethnicity and relative to the United States as a whole.

State of the South 1996 cover graphic

State of the South 1996

MDC's first The State of the South report provided a state-level analysis of 30-year trends in population, jobs, income, poverty, and education in the South, with projections to the year 2010 and recommendations for the region's policymakers.

Funded  BellSouth Corporation, Ford Foundation, Wachovia Foundation, and Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation