The paper deals with the differential equation
on [ 0, ∞) Where λ>0 and the coefficients qm are complex-valued with qn continuous and non-zero, w is positive and continuous and qm for m = 0, 1,…, n − 1. In the first part of the paper the exponential behaviour of any solution of (*) is given in terms of a function ρ(λ) which is roughly the distance of λ from the essential spectrum of a closed, densely denned linear operator T generated by T+ in L2(0, ∞ w). Next, estimates are obtained for the solutions in terms of the coefficients in (*). When the latter results are compared with the estimates established previously in terms of ρ(λ), bounds for ρ(λ) are obtained. From the general result there are two kinds of consequences. In the first, criteria for ρ(λ) = 0 for all All λ > 0 are obtained; this means that [0, ∞) lies in the essential spectrum of T in appropriate circumstances. The second type of consequence concerns bounds of the form ρ(λ) = O(λr) for λ → ∞ and r<1.