Nzima or Akan? An Analysis of Political Leaders and Ethnic Identities in Côte d’Ivoire

Last registered on November 28, 2021


Trial Information

General Information

Nzima or Akan? An Analysis of Political Leaders and Ethnic Identities in Côte d’Ivoire
Initial registration date
November 23, 2021

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
November 28, 2021, 5:46 PM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.


Primary Investigator

Bucknell University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Across Africa ethnic identities remain a prominent part of people's lives. From Dakar to Dar-es-Salaam, Africans still in many ways identity most closely with their ethnic group rather than broader national or even African identities. Ethnicity is in many ways a social construction dating back to slavery and colonialization, and has become very much a part of modern politics. For a variety of reasons, political leaders in Africa have sought to stoke, manipulate, and even create ethnic identities to serve their political purposes. Scholars have studied both the effects of ethnicity and also the determinants of these identities. This paper focuses on the latter with a particular consideration of political leaders and their influence on ethnic identities. However, most of the work has focused on differences across ethnic groups or inter-ethnic differences whether as a cause or as an effect. Yet, in many cases what is most interesting and important are the intra-ethnic or within group differences. Many of these groups were divided by the colonizer and today have developed both an ethnic and a national identity. The Akan of Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana are an example: there are Akan like the Nzima living on both sides of the border. In this analysis, we want to study the identities of the Nzima within Cote d'Ivoire to answer two questions: (1) To what degree do the Nzima identify with their sub-group versus their larger group the Akan? (2) Do political leaders affect the identity of the Nzima? To answer the second question, we use an interesting division in presidential political leaders by nationality and ethnicity to see if Kwame Nkrumah, an Nzima leader of Ghanian nationality, pushes the Nzima in Cote d'Ivoire to identify with their sub-group and then we consider if fellow Ivorian and Akan member Félix Houphouët-Boigny encourages the Nzima to identify with their ethnic group the Akan. If the borders drawn by the colonizer are truly arbitrary and have divided the same people then a well-known leader like Nkrumah should cause the Nzima to identify as Nzima while a well-known fellow national like Houphouët-Boigny should push them to be Akan. To test our claims, we will conduct field experiments in Grand Bassam in an area that is inhabited by the Nzima. We will randomly select respondents and randomly assign either a control, treatment of Nkrumah, or treatment of Houphouët-Boigny. Follow up questions will ask about their identity, how close they feel to Nzima in Ghana, and several ethnic-identity related questions.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Doces, John. 2021. "Nzima or Akan? An Analysis of Political Leaders and Ethnic Identities in Côte d’Ivoire." AEA RCT Registry. November 28.
Experimental Details


Interventions will be randomly assigned control or two treatments. Treatment arms will include a picture of a leader and a statement about their work and success as political leaders.

Treatment arm #1

Félix Houphouët-Boigny, an Akan, made his hometown of Yamoussoukro the capital of Côte d'Ivoire, and built there the largest and most beautiful cathedral in the world. He has done a lot of good things for the Akans and the Ivory Coast. Are you proud to be an Akan like Félix Houphouët-Boigny?

Treatment arm #2

Kwame Nkrumah, an Akan of Nzima origin, led Ghana to independence and is one of the most famous of all African leaders. He was the first prime minister of Ghana and did a lot of good things for the Nzima. Are you proud to be Nzima like Nkrumah?
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
There are several outcome variables:

1. Identity: Nzima versus Akan
2. Degree to which respondents identity with Nzima in Ghana
3. Degree to which respondents would be offended by news story critiquing Nzima
4. Degree to which respondent wellbeing is affected by wellbeing of other Nzima
5. Degree to which respondent thinks Akan are similar or not
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Random sample of people in Nzima cluster or area with random assignment of control-treatment.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization will be done in office by a computer. Surveys will be ordered by random assignment.
Randomization Unit
Random assignment will be done at individual level.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
There will be one cluster but randomization will be done at individual level.
Sample size: planned number of observations
There will be approximately 270.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
There will be 90 observations for the control, and 90 per treatment for a total of 270.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
None conducted.
Supporting Documents and Materials

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Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Bucknell University Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials