The ratio between population and active physicians in the Nordic countries has improved from 488 inhabitants per physician in 1980 to 315 in 2000. There is a large mobility of physicians between the countries, contributing to levelling out swings in demand and supply of manpower. Language and culture being similar, physicians can easily adjust to working in a neighbouring country. Iceland is special in this respect, as a surplus of Icelandic physicians has always found work in the other Nordic countries. Of course, their numbers are small relative to the total number of active physicians in the Nordic countries, now approximately 76,000. The number of students admitted to Nordic medical faculties has changed in line with swings in estimated future demand for manpower. Today, numbers are increasing again; this year, approximately 2,900 students will be admitted. Norway stands apart from the other Nordic countries in terms of medical manpower needs. During the last 20 years there has been a continuous shortage of physicians while all the other countries have been through periods of surplus and unemployment among physicians. Manpower forecasts in the early 1980s underestimated the growth in the health care system and hence the demand for medical manpower.