Foreign workers don't steal jobs from West Germans. That is the conclusion of a new study by the German Institute for Economic Research in West Berlin.
Critics may protest that you hardly need an academic study to prove that grass is green. But in an atmosphere of rising hostility to the 4.6 million ''guest workers'' and dependents here, the study is significant.
''Guest workers'' is the name given to the flood of primarily Turkish, Yugoslav, Italian, Greek, and Spanish workers who came here as skilled and unskilled labor in the economic boom years of the 1950s and '60s. The term does not include northern Europeans, Americans, or others who are here on professional jobs.
The original West German expectation was that the guest workers would stay here for a few years, then return to their home countries. That didn't happen. As unemployment has risen in the past few years, a growing number of West Germans have viewed the now-resident southern Europeans as rivals for jobs. Never mind that many West Germans just don't want to take on the hard, dirty, street-sweeping and cleaning work that many of the guest workers perform.
Now the Berlin Institute says that's all a misunderstanding. It urges resident foreigners to come out of their ghettos and become integrated into West German society.
The institute's argument on the job market rests largely on unemployment figures. The foreign workers are the first to be fired in any period of slump - as at present, the institute points out. Last year unemployment figures for guest workers rose to 8.1 percent, as compared to 5.2 percent for West Germans.
The study argued further for better education (including trade apprenticeships) for the children of guest workers to enable them to get out of the unemployment cycle.