In a report published by the David Hume Institute, it is estimated that by 2041 the working-age population of Scotland will rise by only 38,000.
In contrast, the number of people of pension age is expected to increase by 265,000 over the same period. The institute said the problem could be made worse by Brexit.
Among the recommendations made in the report, the institute suggests the Scottish Government should be given greater powers over attracting and selecting immigrants to the country.
Closer working between the Scottish and UK governments is also encouraged, as well as encouraging Scots living in other parts of the UK and abroad to return home.
The report said the Scottish diaspora was often wealthy, highly-skilled and “suited to many of the roles that Scotland needs to prosper”.
However, it suggested that Scotland had not successfully cultivated this group of workers, “even though many of them are in London – less than 400 miles from the Scottish border”.
Jane-Frances Kelly, director of the David Hume Institute, said increasing immigration is important to sustaining the health of Scotland’s economy.
“We are sounding a warning signal for Scotland’s politicians and policymakers,” she said.
“We need to get to grips with the coming demographic crisis or Scotland’s economy will be severely affected.
“There is a compelling case for the Scottish Government to be able to adjust immigration to meet Scotland’s unique challenge.”