Justin Yifu Lin: The Economist Who Championed China’s Economic Growth


Justin Yifu Lin is an internationally recognized economist who played an instrumental role in shaping the economic policies that led to China’s tremendous growth and development. Born in Taiwan in 1952, Lin migrated to mainland China in 1979 and has since dedicated his life to promoting the country’s economic growth and development.

Over the years, he has held various prominent positions, including the Director-General and Chief Economist of the World Bank from 2008 to 2012. In this article, we will delve into the life and career of Justin Yifu Lin, exploring his childhood, education, and professional accomplishments.

Early life and education

Justin Yifu Lin was born into a poor family in a small town in Taiwan. Despite facing financial constraints and limited opportunities, his parents instilled in him a strong work ethic and a drive to succeed. These values helped him to excel academically, and he eventually earned a scholarship to study at the National Chengchi University in Taiwan.

After completing his undergraduate studies, Lin pursued his master’s degree in economics at the University of Chicago. There, he studied under the renowned economist, Milton Friedman, and developed a deep respect for the principles of free-market economics.

Lin then moved to Harvard University, where he earned his doctorate in economics. During his time at Harvard, he became interested in evaluating the economic policies adopted by various countries and assessing their effectiveness in promoting growth and development.

Career in academia

Upon completing his doctoral studies, Lin joined the faculty of Peking University in China, where he served as a professor of economics for over 15 years. During his tenure, he conducted extensive research on China’s economic policies and became a leading voice in advocating for market-oriented reforms.

In the early 1990s, Lin played a key role in developing the “China miracle” economic model, which emphasized the importance of deregulation and private sector development in promoting economic growth. This model, also known as the “Beijing Consensus,” challenged the traditional Washington Consensus and offered an alternative approach to development that was more effective in developing countries.

Advisor to the Chinese government

In recognition of his expertise and contributions to the field of economics, Justin Yifu Lin was appointed as an economic advisor to the Chinese government in 2006. In this role, he played a crucial role in shaping the country’s economic policies, particularly in regard to promoting private sector development and seeking foreign investment.

During this time, China experienced rapid economic growth, with GDP growth rates averaging around 10% per year. Lin’s policies helped to reduce poverty and increased access to education and healthcare, thereby improving the standard of living for millions of Chinese citizens.

In 2008, Lin was appointed as the Director-General of the World Bank, making him the first person from a developing country to hold the position. As the Chief Economist, he had a significant impact on the World Bank’s policies and programs, advocating for greater attention to be paid to the economic development of low-income countries.


Justin Yifu Lin is a true champion of economic development, whose contributions to promoting growth and development in China and other developing countries will undoubtedly continue to shape the field of economics for years to come.

His work has helped to change the traditional approach to development, emphasizing the importance of market-oriented reforms, private sector development, and foreign investment. His advocacy for the rights of the poor and the importance of education and healthcare has also played a key role in promoting more equitable economic growth in China and other developing countries.

Lin continues to publish research and advocate for new solutions to the challenges faced by the global economy, proving that he is a man committed to promoting development and prosperity for all.

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