President Reagan's cuts in the government's four major programs for the poor helped force 4 million people off the rolls from 1980 to 1984, including 1.5 million in the South, the Southern Regional Council reported.

Over the same period, there was "an unprecedented rise of 2.5 million poor persons in the South and over 9 million in the nation," the Atlanta-based research group said in a report on economic conditions in the South.

The council's program-reduction estimates represent the net impact of Reagan's eligibility and benefit changes after taking into account shifts that would have occurred anyway. The council report, based on federal government and regional statistical summaries, calculated that from the third quarter of 1980 to the third quarter of 1984, Medicaid beneficiaries in 11 southern states and four border states dropped by nearly 225,000 people, AFDC beneficiaries by 134,000 and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries by about 36,000. From March 1981 to September 1984, the number of food-stamp beneficiaries dropped by 1.1 million, a total of nearly 1.5 million for the four programs combined.

For the nation, including the South, net reductions in Medicaid were estimated at 300,000; in food stamps at 3.2 million; in AFDC at 330,000, and in SSI at 108,000, a total of about 4 million.