We consider a Markov chain in continuous time with an absorbing coffin state and a finite set $S$ of transient states. When $S$ is irreducible the limiting distribution of the chain as $t \to\infty,$ conditional on survival up to time $t,$ is known to equal the (unique) quasi-stationary distribution of the chain. We address the problem of generalizing this result to a setting in which $S$ may be reducible, and show that it remains valid if the eigenvalue with maximal real part of the generator of the (sub)Markov chain on $S$ has geometric (but not, necessarily, algebraic) multiplicity one. The result is then applied to pure death processes and, more generally, to quasi-death processes. We also show that the result holds true even when the geometric multiplicity is larger than one, provided the irreducible subsets of $S$ satisfy an accessibility constraint. A key role in the analysis is played by some classic results on $M$-matrices.
- Quasi-stationary distribution
- survival-time distribution
- Absorbing Markov chain
- death process
- migration process
- limiting conditional distribution