An important unknown in understanding the impact of climate change is the scope of adaptation, which requires observations on historical time scales. We consider how weather across U.S. history (1860–2000) has affected various measures of productivity. Using cross-sectional and panel methods, we document significant responses of agricultural and individual productivity to weather. We find strong effects of hotter and wetter weather early in U.S. history, but these effects have generally been attenuated in recent decades. The results suggest that estimates from a given period may be of limited use in forecasting the longer-term impacts of climate change.
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