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This paper uses micro data from the German Socio-Economic Panel to document that the wage structure in West Germany was remarkably stable over the period 1984-97, with little variation over time in wage or earnings inequality among and within different skill groups. The paper investigates a number of possible explanations for the stability of the wage structure and concludes that it is attributable to institutional factors rather than market forces. Consequently, the rigidity of relative wagesdoi:10.2139/ssrn.245419 fatcat:56lqfvcusfbk5keqjtajxel2vy