Chilean economist with twenty years of experience. PhD degree from University of California, Los Angeles (1996). His research and advisory activities have centered mainly on Economics of Education, Labor Economics, Poverty, Inequality and Program Evaluation. The focus of most of this work has been Chile and other Latin American countries. Contreras has also worked as consultant in several projects for the IDB (red de centros), World Bank, OECD and UNDP. He is author of about eighty articles, monographs and book chapters on such diverse subjects as the ones mentioned above.
Contreras was Chairman of the Department of Economics (Universidad de Chile) during two periods (2001-2003 and 2012-2013). In 2013, he was appointed Director of the Centre for Social Conflict and Cohesion Studies (www.coes.cl). The center is sponsored by the Chilean Research Council. COES is a multidisciplinary and multi-institutional, which main mandate is to provide novel research (from multiple disciplines) and policy recommendations in topics related to social cohesion and conflict. The center congregates social science researchers from diverse fields such as Sociology, Political Science, Education, Economy, Psychology and Urbanism.
He was Lead Economist for Social Protection and Knowledge at the UNDP (Chile). At that time, he was responsible for advising the Chilean government in different policy areas including gender, education and social protection. Finally, Contreras served as Executive Director of the World Bank (2008-2010) as a representative of the southern cone countries in Latin America (Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Perú and Uruguay).