Omar Arias is currently a Lead Economist in the World Bank East Asia and Pacific Chief Economist Office. Previously, he was a Lead Economist in the Education Global Practice. He also has experience as Manager for Global Knowledge and Innovation for Education, Practice Lead Economist of the Social Protection and Labor Global Practice and Global Lead for skills, Sector Manager and Lead Economist in the Human Development Economics Unit for the Europe and Central Asia region; Sector Leader of Human Development for Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela; Senior Economist in the Poverty Group of the Latin American region; and Research Economist at the Inter-American Development Bank.
In his publications, he has been a co-author of various flagship policy research studies, including regional studies on skills (The Skills Balancing Act in Sub-Saharan Africa), pensions (“The Inverting Pyramid: Pension Systems Facing Demographic Challenges in Europe and Central Asia”), jobs ("Back to Work: Growing with Jobs in Europe and Central Asia"); labor markets, poverty and inequality ("Informality: Exit and Exclusion" and “Poverty Reduction and Growth: Virtuous and Vicious Circles”); as well as numerous country studies on skills, informality and labor markets including in Argentina, Bolivia, China, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Peru, Poland, and Romania. He has peer-reviewed publications in various topics, including estimation of returns to schooling and skills, socio-emotional skills, labor market dynamics, determinants of income mobility, growth, poverty and inequality, human capital accumulation, tax evasion, and in applied econometrics.
He was a Fulbright scholar at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he obtained his master's degree and doctorate in economics.