Lin is the founder and first director of the China Center for Economic Research and a former professor of economics at Peking University and at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He received an MBA degree from National Chengchi University in 1978, a Master’s degree in political economy from Peking University in 1982, and a PhD in economics from the University of Chicago in 1986.
He was one of the first PRC citizens to receive a PhD in economics from Chicago, and is a leading Chinese economist; he serves as a consultant to major international organizations and is on the editorial board of several international academic economics journals.
On September 16, 2008, Fordham University honored Justin Yifu Lin a reception for his being chief economist and senior vice president of the World Bank.
He received an Honorary Doctorate from Fordham in 2009 and was elected a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy in 2010. His 2012 book, The Quest for Prosperity: How Developing Economies Can Take Off, argued for an active role for government in nurturing development, not just through the traditional provision of infrastructure and legal enforcement, but also by identifying and actively supporting industries that contribute to growth.