Comparisons of health care and poor relief in Norway with other European countries may easily resemble repeated descriptions of the same processes, as the countries involved show substantial similarities in social development. Solutions had to be local – a fact that explains differences which do not necessarily call for special historical attention, if they do not reflect important underlying ideologies. Therefore, for the case of Norway, it seems sensible to line up some parts of the background which are specific for Norway, before the main traits of the efforts to solve health and poverty problems are highlighted. Thus some political facts may serve as an appropriate starting point.