Clinical depression has exploded in the industrial world in the last generation. I believe a significant — not the only, but a significant — contributor to this explosion of depression, and also suicide, is that people have experiences that are disappointing because their standards are so high, and then when they have to explain these experiences to themselves, they think they’re at fault. And so the net result is that we do better in general, objectively, and we feel worse. So let me remind you. This is the official dogma, the one that we all take to be true, and it’s all false. It is not true. There’s no question that some choice is better than none, but it doesn’t follow from that that more choice is better than some choice. There’s some magical amount. I don’t know what it is. I’m pretty confident that we have long since passed the point where options improve our welfare.

What enables all of this choice in industrial societies is material affluence. There are lots of places in the world where their problem is not that they have too much choice. Their problem is that they have too little. So the stuff I’m talking about is the peculiar problem of modern, affluent, Western societies. And what is so frustrating and infuriating is this: these expensive, complicated choices — it’s not simply that they don’t help. They actually hurt. They actually make us worse off.

If some of what enables people in our societies to make all of the choices we make were shifted to societies in which people have too few options, not only would those people’s lives be improved, but ours would be improved also. This is what economists call a “Pareto-improving move.” Income redistribution will make everyone better off — not just poor people — because of how all this excess choice plagues us.
-Barry Schwartz-