: A unified or consensus definition of “sustainable working life” remains lacking, although studies investigating risk factors for labour market exit are numerous. In this study, we aimed (1) to update the information and to explore a definition of “sustainable working life” via a systematic literature review and (2) to describe the working life trajectories via the prevalence of sickness absence (SA), disability pension (DP), and unemployment in a Swedish twin cohort to provide a sample overview in our Sustainable Working Life-project. Methods
: A systematic literature review was conducted to explore the studies with the search phrase “sustainable working life” in PubMed, PsycInfo, and the Web of Science Database of Social Sciences in January 2021, resulting in a total of 51 references. A qualitative synthesis was performed for the definitions and the measures of “sustainable working life.” Based on the Swedish Twin project Of Disability pension and Sickness absence (STODS), the current dataset to address sustainable working life includes 108 280 twin individuals born between 1925 and 1990. Comprehensive register data until 2016 for unemployment, SA and DP were linked to all individuals. Using STODS, we analysed the annual prevalence of SA, DP, and unemployment as working life trajectories over time across education and age groups. Results
: The reviewed 16 full articles described several distinct definitions for sustainable working life between 2007 and 2020 from various perspectives, i.e., considering workplaces or employees, the individual, organizational or enterprise level, and the society level. The definition of “sustainable working life” appearing most often was the swAge-model including a broad range of factors, e.g., health, physical/mental/psychosocial work environment, work motivation/satisfaction, and the family situation and leisure activities. Our dataset comprised of 81%–94% of individuals who did not meet SA, DP, or unemployment during the follow-up in 1994–2016, being indicative for “sustainable working life.” The annual prevalence across years had a decreasing trend of unemployment over time, whereas the prevalence of SA had more variation, with DP being rather stable. Both unemployment and DP had the highest prevalence among those with a lower level of education, whereas in SA, the differences in prevalence between education levels were minor. Unemployment was highest across the years in the youngest age group (18–27 years), the age group differences for SA were minor, and for DP, the oldest age group (58–65 years) had the highest prevalence. Conclusions
: No consensus exists for a “sustainable working life,” hence meriting further studies, and we intend to contribute by utilising the STODS database for the Sustainable Working Life project. In the upcoming studies, the existing knowledge of available definitions and frameworks will be utilised. The dataset containing both register data and self-reports enables detailed follow-up for labour market participation for sustainable working life.