There was a previous thread ("History of Imperial Russia") where the same question was asked, I will just copy the same post I placed there:
[Imperial Russia] was a mostly rural, peasant country for sure, but with the fastest industrial growth in the world in the late 19th-early 20th centuries. Serfdom was abolished around 1860, and this improved the conditions of many peasants. Most peasants were very poor compared to Western Europeans, but anyway there were a few who were rich, others who could be considered middle class (small landowners), and literacy was also growing fast among peasants and workers. I know a woman whose parents were Byelorussians (Russian-speaking) and moved to Argentina in the 1920's - they were peasants, literate and owned their land, and had good cultural and material life conditions before the revolution. The reforms put in practice by prime-minister Stolypin in the early 20th century gave arable lands in Southern Siberia and low-interest credits for peasants, which also improved their condition. Revolutionaries were so afraid of Stolypin's reforms because, if successful, it would delay or simply abort the revolution they were fighting for (revolutionaries, either liberal or socialist, are evil because they necessarily need the conditions of the people to be extremely bad, otherwise no revolution will ever occur), and he was assassinated by an anarchist in Kiev. Last, there was a thriving middle class in cities, consisting of traders, doctors, professors, lawyers, etc.
Does this mean that everything was perfect in Russia, that everyone was happy before the Revolution? Of course not, there was a lot of injustices, inequalities and oppression, from which revolutionary feelings bred. But the Bolsheviks, striving for a "perfect" society, only made things worse, and a terrible terror regime under Lenin and Stalin came upon Russia that caused dozens of millions to die, many of the brightest people to emigrate, a situation much worse than anything the previous tsars and emperors had ever done, even those considered the bloodiest ones, like Ivan IV. Russia is nowadays in a current difficult demographic situation mostly due to the Bolsheviks - not only the terror from 1917-1953, but also legal abortion and low birth rate have decimated Russian population. Before the Revolution, Russia had a very fast growing population.