Disney and Investing in Children

Disney and Investing in Children

children's prize children of different backgroundsThe recent announcement that blockbuster director JJ Abrams would be directing the next Star Wars movie for new owner Disney is a reminder of the titanic size of our investment, so to speak, in our children. But Star Wars is just one small spot of light in the Disney universe. Across all of its myriad divisions, the company raked in $41 billion last year, good for 66th place on the Fortune 500.

Revenue represents sales, and in the case of Disney, it seems fair to categorize the vast majority of those sales as expenditures by, on behalf of, or at least related to children (the company has very few product lines aimed at childless adults). How does that kind of spending compare to some of the numbers surrounding child mortality? After all, a dollar spent on Disney is typically spent to make our children happy. A dollar spent on child mortality is spent to save their lives.

As explained in our earlier post this month, US foreign aid totaled 31 billion, with private aid adding enough to this number to top the money spent around the world on just Disney products – but not by much. Another comparison: the Gates Foundation’s Global Health program is the largest of its kind in the world, and according to Wikipedia, is roughly the same size as either the World Health Organization’s interventions or the infectious disease program of USAID. The annual outlay at the Gates Foundation? About $800 million, only 2% of the money spent on all things Disney.

It was also pointed out in another earlier post that 7 million children die every day of preventable causes, worldwide. As a hypothetical exercise, if the Disney money were diverted to the cause of saving these children, each of them would have $5,850 to work with. That’s a sum that just might be enough to make a big difference for most.

The Children’s Prize is a contest where $1 million is offered to save the lives of as many children under age 5 as possible. It remains to be seen how many lives can be saved for this sum, but once the contest has run and the winning project has been implemented, we do know that one more number describing our investment in children will have been added to the universe.


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